Discussion Post/Case Study Help

Read Case Study 8.1 attached from the Northouse textbook (pgs. 181-183) and answer the four (4) questions listed at the end of the case. Ensure that you review the Case Analysis – Discussion Forum Grading Rubric.

(1) Initial discussion post must Include a minimum of 150 words per question. Since you are required to respond to four (4) questions, your initial post should be no less than 600 words. Your answers should reflect an understanding of how the class materials (textbooks, videos, etc.) apply to the questions.

(2) Your entire initial post must contain at least (1) textbook reference AND (1) external source. APA guidelines apply.


The case is attached. I am unable to upload the textbook but I can send in a separate email with the case on page 181-183.

The Videos are attached as well.

The Questions should be stated and then answered in a numerical format

Leadership seventh edition



To Laurel, Lisa, Madison, Scott, and Kallie



Leadership Theory and practice • seventh edition


Peter g.Northouse Western Michigan University



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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Northouse, Peter Guy.

Leadershop : theory and practice/Peter Northouse, Western Michigan University.—Seventh Edition.

pages cm Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 978-1-4833-1753-3 (pbk. : alk. paper)

1. Leadership. 2. Leadership—Case studies. I. Title.

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Brief Contents

Preface xvii

1. Introduction 1 2. Trait Approach 19 3. Skills Approach 43 4. Behavioral Approach 71 5. Situational Approach 93 6. Path–Goal Theory 115 7. Leader–Member Exchange Theory 137 8. Transformational Leadership 161 9. Authentic Leadership 195 10. Servant Leadership 225 11. Adaptive Leadership 257 12. Psychodynamic Approach 295 13. Leadership Ethics 329 14. Team Leadership 363 15. Gender and Leadership 397 16. Culture and Leadership 427

Author Index 467 Subject index 477 About the Author 491 About the Contributors 493




Detailed Contents

Preface xvii

1. Introduction 1 Leadership Defined 2

Ways of Conceptualizing Leadership 5 Definition and Components 6

Leadership Described 7 Trait Versus Process Leadership 7 Assigned Versus Emergent Leadership 8 Leadership and Power 10 Leadership and Coercion 12 Leadership and Management 13

Plan of the Book 15 Summary 16 References 17

2. Trait Approach 19 Description 19

Intelligence 23 Self-Confidence 24 Determination 24 Integrity 25 Sociability 26 Five-Factor Personality Model and Leadership 26 Emotional Intelligence 27

How Does the Trait Approach Work? 29 Strengths 30 Criticisms 30



Application 32 Case Studies 32

Case 2.1 Choosing a New Director of Research 33 Case 2.2 A Remarkable Turnaround 34 Case 2.3 Recruiting for the Bank 36

Leadership Instrument 37 Leadership Trait Questionnaire (LTQ) 38

Summary 40 References 41

3. Skills Approach 43 Description 43

Three-Skill Approach 44 Technical Skill 44 Human Skill 44 Conceptual Skill 45 Summary of the Three-Skill Approach 46

Skills Model 47 Competencies 48 Individual Attributes 52 Leadership Outcomes 53 Career Experiences 54 Environmental Influences 55 Summary of the Skills Model 56

How Does the Skills Approach Work? 56 Strengths 57 Criticisms 58 Application 59 Case Studies 60

Case 3.1 A Strained Research Team 60 Case 3.2 A Shift for Lieutenant Colonel Adams 62 Case 3.3 Andy’s Recipe 64

Leadership Instrument 66 Skills Inventory 67

Summary 69 References 70

4. Behavioral Approach 71 Description 71

The Ohio State Studies 72 The University of Michigan Studies 73 Blake and Mouton’s Managerial (Leadership) Grid 74

Authority–Compliance (9,1) 75



Country-Club Management (1,9) 75 Impoverished Management (1,1) 75 Middle-of-the-Road Management (5,5) 76 Team Management (9,9) 77

Paternalism/Maternalism 77 Opportunism 77

How Does the Behavioral Approach Work? 78 Strengths 80 Criticisms 81 Application 81 Case Studies 82

Case 4.1 A Drill Sergeant at First 83 Case 4.2 Eating Lunch Standing Up 84 Case 4.3 We Are Family 85

Leadership Instrument 87 Leadership Behavior Questionnaire 88

Summary 90 References 91

5. Situational Approach 93 Description 93

Leadership Styles 94 Development Levels 96

How Does the Situational Approach Work? 97 Strengths 98 Criticisms 99 Application 102 Case Studies 103

Case 5.1 Marathon Runners at Different Levels 103 Case 5.2 Why Aren’t They Listening? 105 Case 5.3 Getting the Message Across 107

Leadership Instrument 108 Situational Leadership Questionnaire: Sample Items 109

Summary 112 References 113

6. Path–Goal Theory 115 Description 115

Leader Behaviors 117 Directive Leadership 117 Supportive Leadership 117 Participative Leadership 118 Achievement-Oriented Leadership 118



Follower Characteristics 118 Task Characteristics 119

How Does Path–Goal Theory Work? 120 Strengths 122 Criticisms 123 Application 124 Case Studies 125

Case 6.1 Three Shifts, Three Supervisors 126 Case 6.2 Direction for Some, Support for Others 128 Case 6.3 Playing in the Orchestra 129

Leadership Instrument 132 Path–Goal Leadership Questionnaire 133

Summary 135 References 136

7. Leader–Member Exchange Theory 137 Description 137

Early Studies 137 Later Studies 140 Leadership Making 142

How Does LMX Theory Work? 144 Strengths 145 Criticisms 146 Application 148 Case Studies 149

Case 7.1 His Team Gets the Best Assignments 150 Case 7.2 Working Hard at Being Fair 151 Case 7.3 Taking on Additional Responsibilities 152

Leadership Instrument 154 LMX 7 Questionnaire 155

Summary 157 References 158

8. Transformational Leadership 161 Description 161

Transformational Leadership Defined 162 Transformational Leadership and Charisma 164 A Model of Transformational Leadership 166

Transformational Leadership Factors 167 Transactional Leadership Factors 171 Nonleadership Factor 172

Other Transformational Perspectives 172 Bennis and Nanus 172 Kouzes and Posner 174



How Does the Transformational Approach Work? 175 Strengths 176 Criticisms 178 Application 180 Case Studies 181

Case 8.1 The Vision Failed 181 Case 8.2 An Exploration in Leadership 183 Case 8.3 Her Vision of a Model Research Center 185

Leadership Instrument 187 Summary 190 References 191

9. Authentic Leadership 195 Description 195

Authentic Leadership Defined 196 Approaches to Authentic Leadership 197

Practical Approach 197 Theoretical Approach 200

How Does Authentic Leadership Work? 205 Strengths 206 Criticisms 207 Applications 208 Case Studies 209

Case 9.1 Am I Really a Leader? 210 Case 9.2 A Leader Under Fire 212 Case 9.3 The Reluctant First Lady 214

Leadership Instrument 217 Authentic Leadership Self-Assessment Questionnaire 218

Summary 220 References 221

10. Servant Leadership 225 Description 225

Servant Leadership Defined 226 Historical Basis of Servant Leadership 226 Ten Characteristics of a Servant Leader 227 Building a Theory About Servant Leadership 229

Model of Servant Leadership 231 Antecedent Conditions 231 Servant Leader Behaviors 233 Outcomes 236 Summary of the Model of Servant Leadership 238

How Does Servant Leadership Work? 238 Strengths 239



Criticisms 240 Application 241 Case Studies 242

Case 10.1 Everyone Loves Mrs. Noble 243 Case 10.2 Doctor to the Poor 244 Case 10.3 Servant Leadership Takes Flight 247

Leadership Instrument 249 Servant Leadership Questionnaire 250

Summary 253 References 254

11. Adaptive Leadership 257 Description 257

Adaptive Leadership Defined 258 A Model of Adaptive Leadership 260

Situational Challenges 261 Leader Behaviors 263 Adaptive Work 273

How Does Adaptive Leadership Work? 274 Strengths 275 Criticisms 276 Application 277 Case Studies 279

Case 11.1 Silence, Stigma, and Mental Illness 279

Case 11.2 Taming Bacchus 281 Case 11.3 Redskins No More 283

Leadership Instrument 286 Adaptive Leadership Questionnaire 287

Summary 292 References 293

12. Psychodynamic Approach 295 Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries and Alicia Cheak Description 295 The Clinical Paradigm 296 History of the Psychodynamic Approach 297 Key Concepts and Dynamics Within the

Psychodynamic Approach 301 1. Focus on the Inner Theatre 301 2. Focus on the Leader-Follower

Relationships 302 3. Focus on the Shadow Side of Leadership 305

How Does the Psychodynamic Approach Work? 305 Strengths 306



Criticisms 307 Application 308

Group Coaching 309 Case Studies 313

Case 12.1 Dealing With Passive-Aggressives 313 Case 12.2 The Fear of Success 314 Case 12.3 Helping a Bipolar Leader 315

Leadership Instrument 317 The Leadership Archetype

Questionnaire (Abridged Version) 318 Summary 324 References 324

13. Leadership Ethics 329 Description 329

Ethics Defined 330 Level 1. Preconventional Morality 331 Level 2. Conventional Morality 332 Level 3. Postconventional Morality 332

Ethical Theories 333 Centrality of Ethics to Leadership 336 Heifetz’s Perspective on Ethical Leadership 337 Burns’s Perspective on Ethical Leadership 338 The Dark Side of Leadership 339 Principles of Ethical Leadership 341

Ethical Leaders Respect Others 341 Ethical Leaders Serve Others 342 Ethical Leaders Are Just 344 Ethical Leaders Are Honest 345 Ethical Leaders Build Community 346

Strengths 347 Criticisms 348 Application 349 Case Studies 349

Case 13.1 Choosing a Research Assistant 350 Case 13.2 How Safe Is Safe? 351 Case 13.3 Reexamining a Proposal 352

Leadership Instrument 355 Perceived Leader Integrity Scale (PLIS) 356

Summary 359 References 360

14. Team Leadership 363 Susan E. Kogler Hill Description 363



Team Leadership Model 366 Team Effectiveness 367 Leadership Decisions 372 Leadership Actions 377

How Does the Team Leadership Model Work? 381 Strengths 382 Criticisms 383 Application 384 Case Studies 385

Case 14.1 Can This Virtual Team Work? 385 Case 14.2 They Dominated the Conversation 386 Case 14.3 Starts With a Bang, Ends With a Whimper 387

Leadership Instrument 389 Team Excellence and Collaborative

Team Leader Questionnaire 391 Summary 393 References 393

15. Gender and Leadership 397 Crystal L. Hoyt and Stefanie Simon Description 397

The Glass Ceiling Turned Labyrinth 398 Evidence of the Leadership Labyrinth 398 Understanding the Labyrinth 399

Gender Differences in Leadership Styles and Effectiveness 401

Navigating the Labyrinth 406 Strengths 409 Criticisms 410 Application 411 Case Studies 411

Case 15.1 The “Glass Ceiling” 412 Case 15.2 Lack of Inclusion and Credibility 413 Case 15.3 Pregnancy as a Barrier to Job Status 414

Leadership Instrument 415 The Gender–Leader Implicit Association Test 416

Summary 419 References 420

16. Culture and Leadership 427 Description 427

Culture Defined 428 Related Concepts 428



Ethnocentrism 428 Prejudice 429

Dimensions of Culture 430 Uncertainty Avoidance 431 Power Distance 432 Institutional Collectivism 432 In-Group Collectivism 432 Gender Egalitarianism 433 Assertiveness 433 Future Orientation 433 Performance Orientation 434 Humane Orientation 434

Clusters of World Cultures 434 Characteristics of Clusters 436

Anglo 437 Confucian Asia 437 Eastern Europe 437 Germanic Europe 437 Latin America 438 Latin Europe 438 Middle East 438 Nordic Europe 439 Southern Asia 439 Sub-Saharan Africa 439

Leadership Behavior and Culture Clusters 439 Eastern Europe Leadership Profile 441 Latin America Leadership Profile 441 Latin Europe Leadership Profile 441 Confucian Asia Leadership Profile 443 Nordic Europe Leadership Profile 443 Anglo Leadership Profile 444 Sub-Saharan Africa Leadership Profile 445 Southern Asia Leadership Profile 445 Germanic Europe Leadership Profile 446 Middle East Leadership Profile 446

Universally Desirable and Undesirable Leadership Attributes 448

Strengths 449 Criticisms 450 Application 451 Case Studies 452

Case 16.1 A Challenging Workplace 452 Case 16.2 A Special Kind of Financing 454 Case 16.3 Whose Hispanic Center Is It? 456



Leadership Instrument 458 Dimensions of Culture Questionnaire 459

Summary 464 References 465

Author Index 467 Subject index 477

About the Author 491

About the Contributors 493





This seventh edition of Leadership: Theory and Practice is written with the objective of bridging the gap between the often-simplistic popular approaches to leadership and the more abstract theoretical approaches. Like the previous editions, this edition reviews and analyzes a selected number of leadership theories, giving special attention to how each theoretical approach can be applied in real-world organizations. In essence, my purpose is to explore how leadership theory can inform and direct the way leadership is practiced.


New to this volume is a chapter on adaptive leadership, which examines the nature of adaptive leadership, its underpinnings, and how it works. The chapter presents a definition, a model, and the latest research and applica- tions of this emerging approach to leadership. In addition, the strengths and weaknesses of the adaptive leadership approach are examined, and a ques- tionnaire to help readers assess their own levels of adaptive leadership is provided. Three case studies illustrating adaptive leadership are presented at the end of the chapter.

This volume also presents an entirely new chapter on psychodynamic leader- ship written by a leading expert in the field, Manfred F. R. Kets De Vries, and Alicia Cheak. Like the other chapters, this chapter provides a theoreti- cal explanation of psychodynamic leadership, applications, cases studies, and an assessment instrument.

This edition also includes an expanded discussion of the dark side of leader- ship and psuedotransformational leadership and the negative uses and abuses of leadership. New research has been added throughout the book as



xvIII Leadership Theory and pracTice

well as many new case studies and examples that help students apply leader- ship concepts to contemporary settings.

This edition retains many special features from previous editions but has been updated to include new research findings, figures and tables, and every- day applications for many leadership topics including leader–member exchange theory, transformational and authentic leadership, team leadership, the labyrinth of women’s leadership, and historical definitions of leadership. The format of this edition parallels the format used in earlier editions. As with previous editions, the overall goal of Leadership: Theory and Practice is to advance our understanding of the many different approaches to leadership and ways to practice it more effectively.


Although this text presents and analyzes a wide range of leadership research, every attempt has been made to present the material in a clear, concise, and interesting manner. Reviewers of the book have consistently commented that clarity is one of its major strengths. In addition to the writing style, several other features of the book help make it user-friendly.

• Each chapter follows the same format: It is structured to include first theory and then practice.

• Every chapter contains a discussion of the strengths and criticisms of the approach under consideration, and assists the reader in determin- ing the relative merits of each approach.

• Each chapter includes an application section that discusses the prac- tical aspects of the approach and how it could be used in today’s organizational settings.

• Three case studies are provided in each chapter to illustrate common leadership issues and dilemmas. Thought-provoking questions follow each case study, helping readers to interpret the case.

• A questionnaire is provided in each of the chapters to help the reader apply the approach to his or her own leadership style or setting.

• Figures and tables illustrate the content of the theory and make the ideas more meaningful.

Through these special features, every effort has been made to make this text substantive, understandable, and practical.



preface xix


This book provides both an in-depth presentation of leadership theory and a discussion of how it applies to real-life situations. Thus, it is intended for undergraduate and graduate classes in management, leadership studies, business, educational leadership, public administration, nursing and allied health, social work, criminal justice, industrial and organizational psychol- ogy, communication, religion, agricultural education, political and military science, and training and development. It is particularly well suited as a supplementary text for core organizational behavior courses or as an over- view text within MBA curricula. This book would also be useful as a text in student activities, continuing education, in-service training, and other leadership-development programs.

Instructor Teaching Site

SAGE edge for Instructors, a password-protected instructor resource site, supports teaching by making it easy to integrate quality content and create a rich learning environment for students. The test banks, which have been expanded for this edition, include multiple-choice and true/false questions to test comprehension, as well as essay questions that ask students to apply the material. An electronic test bank, compatible with PCs and Macs through Diploma software, is also available. Chapter-specific resources include PowerPoint slides, study and discussion questions, suggested exer- cises, full-text journal articles, and video and audio links. General resources include course-long projects, sample syllabi, film resources, and case notes. Printable PDF versions of the questionnaires from the text are included for instructors to print and distribute for classroom use. A course cartridge includes assets found on the Instructor Teaching Site and the Student Study Site, as well as a bonus quiz for each chapter in the book—all in an easy-to- upload package. Go to edge.sagepub.com/northouse7e to access the com- panion site.

Student Study Site

SAGE edge for Students provides a personalized approach to help students accomplish their coursework goals in an easy-to-use learning environment. Mobile-friendly eFlashcards and practice quizzes strengthen understanding of key terms and concepts and allow for independent assessment by students of their mastery of course material. A customized online action plan includes



xx Leadership Theory and pracTice

tips and feedback on progress through the course and materials, which allows students to individualize their learning experience. Learning objec- tives, multimedia links, discussion questions, and SAGE journal articles help students study and reinforce the most important material. Students can go to edge.sagepub.com/northouse7e to access the site.

Media Icons

Icons appearing at the bottom of the page will direct you to online media such as videos, audio links, journal articles, and reference articles that cor- respond with key chapter concepts. Visit the Student Study Site at edge. sagepub.com/northouse7e to access this media.


northouse on Leadership

reference article



saGe Journal article





Many people directly or indirectly contributed to the development of the seventh edition of Leadership: Theory and Practice. First, I would like to acknowledge my editor, Maggie Stanley, and her talented team at SAGE Publications (Nicole, Abbie, MaryAnn, Liz, Katie, and Lauren) who have contributed significantly to the quality of this edition and ensured its suc- cess. For their very capable work during the production phase, I would like to thank copy editor Melinda Masson, and senior project editor Libby Lar- son. In her own unique way, each of these people made valuable contribu- tions to the seventh edition.

For comprehensive reviews of the seventh edition, I would like to thank the following reviewers:

Meera Alagaraja, University of Louisville

Mel Albin, Excelsior College

Thomas Batsching, Reutlingen University

Cheryl Beeler, Angelo State University

Mark D. Bowman, Methodist University

Dianne Burns, University of Manchester

Eric Buschlen, Central Michigan University

Steven Bryant, Drury University

Daniel Calhoun, Georgia Southern University

David Conrad, Augsburg College

Joyce Cousins, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland



xxII Leadership Theory and pracTice

Denise Danna, LSUHSC School of Nursing

S. Todd Deal, Georgia Southern University

Caroline S. Fulmer, University of Alabama

Greig A. Gjerdalen, Capilano University

Andrew Gonzales, University of California, Irvine

Carl Holschen, Missouri Baptist University

Kiran Ismail, St. John’s University

Irma Jones, University of Texas at Brownsville

Michele D. Kegley, University of Cincinnati, Blue Ash College

David Lees, University of Derby

David S. McClain, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Carol McMillan, New School University

Richard Milter, Johns Hopkins University

Christopher Neck, Arizona State University–Tempe

Keeok Park, University of La Verne

Richard Parkman, University of Plymouth

Chaminda S. Prelis, University of Dubuque

Casey Rae, George Fox University

Noel Ronan, Waterford Institute of Technology

Louis Rubino, California State University, Northridge

Shadia Sachedina, Baruch College (School of Public Affairs)

Harriet L. Schwartz, Carlow University

Kelli K. Smith, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

David Swenson, The College of St. Scholastica

Danny L. Talbot, Washington State University

Robert L. Taylor, University of Louisville

Precious Taylor-Clifton, Cambridge College

John Tummons, University of Missouri



acknowledgments xxiii

Kristi Tyran, Western Washington University

Tamara Von George, Granite State College

Natalie Walker, Seminole State College

William Welch, Bowie State University

David E. Williams, Texas Tech University

Tony Wohlers, Cameron University

Sharon A. Wulf, Worcester Polytechnic Institute School of Business

Alec Zama, Grand View University

Xia Zhao, California State University, Dominguez Hills

I would like to thank, for their exceptional work on the leadership profile tool and the ancillaries, Isolde Anderson (Hope College), John Baker (Western Kentucky University), Renee Kosiarek (North Central College) and Lisa Burgoon (University of Illinois), and for his feedback in the con- struction and scoring of the adaptive leadership questionnaire, Paul Yelsma (Western Michigan University).

A special acknowledgment goes to Laurel Northouse for her insightful critiques and ongoing support. In addition, I am grateful to Marie Lee, for her exceptional editing and guidance throughout this project. For their reviews of and comments on the adaptive leadership chapter, I am indebted to Sarah Chace (Marian University), Carl Larson (University of Denver), and Chip Bailey (Duke University).

Finally, I would like to thank the many undergraduate and graduate students whom I have taught through the years. Their ongoing feedback has helped clarify my thinking about leadership and encouraged me to make plain the practical implications of leadership theories.



SAGE was founded in 1965 by Sara Miller McCune to support the dissemination of usable knowledge by publishing innovative and high-quality research and teaching content. Today, we publish more than 750 journals, including those of more than 300 learned societies, more than 800 new books per year, and a growing range of library products including archives, data, case studies, reports, conference highlights, and video. SAGE remains majority-owned by our founder, and after Sara’s lifetime will become owned by a charitable trust that secures our continued independence.

Los Angeles | London | Washington DC | New Delhi | Singapore | Boston



1 Introduction

Leadership is a highly sought-after and highly valued commodity. In the 15 years since the first edition of this book was published, the public has become increasingly captivated by the idea of leadership. People con- tinue to ask themselves and others what makes good leaders. As individuals, they seek more information on how to become effective leaders. As a result, bookstore shelves are filled with popular books about leaders and advice on how to be a leader. Many people believe that leadership is a way to improve their personal, social, and professional lives. Corporations seek those with leadership ability because they believe they bring special assets to their organizations and, ultimately, improve the bottom line. Academic institu- tions throughout the country have responded by providing programs in leadership studies.

In addition, leadership has gained the attention of researchers worldwide. A review of the scholarly studies on leadership shows that there is a wide variety of different theoretical approaches to explain the complexities of the leader- ship process (e.g., Bass, 1990; Bryman, 1992; Bryman, Collinson, Grint, Jack- son, & Uhl-Bien, 2011; Day & Antonakis, 2012; Gardner, 1990; Hickman, 2009; Mumford, 2006; Rost, 1991). Some researchers conceptualize leader- ship as a trait or as a behavior, whereas others view leadership from an infor- mation-processing perspective or relational standpoint. Leadership has been studied using both qualitative and quantitative methods in many contexts, including small groups, therapeutic groups, and large organizations. Collec- tively, the research findings on leadership from all of these areas provide a picture of a process that is far more sophisticated and complex than the often- simplistic view presented in some of the popular books on leadership.

This book treats leadership as a complex process having multiple dimensions. Based on the research literature, this text provides an in-depth description

Leadership Defined Role of Leadership



2 LeaDeRship TheoRy anD pRacTice

and application of many different approaches to leadership. Our emphasis is on how theory can inform the practice of leadership. In this book, we describe each theory and then explain how the theory can be used in real situations.

LeadershIp defIned _____________________________

There are many ways to finish the sentence “Leadership is . . .” In fact, as Stogdill (1974, p. 7) pointed out in a review of leadership research, there are almost as many different definitions of leadership as there are people who have tried to define it. It is much like the words democracy, love, and peace. Although each of us intuitively knows what we mean by such words, the words can have different meanings for different people. As Box 1.1 shows, scholars and practitioners have attempted to define leadership for more than a century without universal consensus.

Box 1.1 The Evolution of Leadership Definitions

While many have a gut-level grasp of what leadership is, putting a definition to the term has proved to be a challenging endeavor for scholars and practitioners alike. More than a century has lapsed since leadership became a topic of academic introspection, and definitions have evolved continuously during that period. These definitions have been influenced by many factors from world affairs and politics to the perspectives of the discipline in which the topic is being studied. in a seminal work, Rost (1991) analyzed materials written from 1900 to 1990, finding more than 200 different definitions for leadership. his analysis provides a succinct history of how leadership has been defined through the last century:


Definitions of leadership appearing in the first three decades of the 20th century emphasized control and centralization of power with a common theme of domination. For example, at a conference on lead- ership in 1927, leadership was defined as “the ability to impress the will of the leader on those led and induce obedience, respect, loyalty, and cooperation” (Moore, 1927, p. 124).

Defining Leadership



chapter 1 introduction 3


Traits became the focus of defining leadership, with an emerging view of leadership as influence rather than domination. Leadership was also identified as the interaction of an individual’s specific personality traits with those of a group; it was noted that while the attitudes and activities of the many may be changed by the one, the many may also influence a leader.


The group approach came into the forefront with leadership being defined as the behavior of an individual while involved in directing group activities (hemphill, 1949). at the same time, leadership by persuasion was distinguished from “drivership” or leadership by coer- cion (copeland, 1942).


Three themes dominated leadership definitions during this decade:

• continuance of group theory, which framed leadership as what leaders do in groups;

• leadership as a relationship that develops shared goals, which defined leadership based on behavior of the leader; and

• effectiveness, in which leadership was defined by the ability to influence overall group effectiveness.


although a tumultuous time for world affairs, the 1960s saw harmony amongst leadership scholars. The prevailing definition of leadership as behavior that influences people toward shared goals was under- scored by seeman (1960) who described leadership as “acts by persons which influence other persons in a shared direction” (p. 53).


The group focus gave way to the organizational behavior approach, where leadership became viewed as “initiating and maintaining groups or organizations to accomplish group or organizational goals” (Rost, 1991, p. 59). Burns’s (1978) definition, however, was the most important concept of leadership to emerge: “Leadership is the reciprocal process


Leadership in nursing



4 LeaDeRship TheoRy anD pRacTice

of mobilizing by persons with certain motives and values, various eco- nomic, political, and other resources, in a context of competition and conflict, in order to realize goals independently or mutually held by both leaders and followers” (p. 425).


This decade exploded with scholarly and popular works on the nature of leadership, bringing the topic to the apex of the academic and public consciousnesses. as a result, the number of definitions for lead- ership became a prolific stew with several persevering themes:

• do as the leader wishes. Leadership definitions still predomi- nantly delivered the message that leadership is getting followers to do what the leader wants done.

• Influence. probably the most often used word in leadership definitions of the 1980s, influence was examined from every angle. in an effort to distinguish leadership from manage- ment, however, scholars insisted that leadership is noncoercive influence.

• Traits. spurred by the national best seller In Search of Excellence (peters & Waterman, 1982), the leadership-as-excellence move- ment brought leader traits back to the spotlight. as a result, many people’s understanding of leadership is based on a trait orientation.

• Transformation. Burns (1978) is credited for initiating a move- ment defining leadership as a transformational process, stating that leadership occurs “when one or more persons engage with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality” (p. 83).

Into the 21st Century

Debate continues as to whether leadership and management are separate processes, but emerging research emphasizes the process of leadership, whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal, rather than developing new ways of defining leadership. among these emerging leadership approaches are

• authentic leadership, in which the authenticity of leaders and their leadership is emphasized;

• spiritual leadership, which focuses on leadership that utilizes values and sense of calling and membership to motivate followers;


The Future of Leadership Working across Generations



chapter 1 introduction 5

• servant leadership, which puts the leader in the role of servant, who utilizes “caring principles” to focus on followers’ needs to help these followers become more autonomous, knowledge- able, and like servants themselves; and

• adaptive leadership, in which leaders encourage followers to adapt by confronting and solving problems, challenges, and changes.

after decades of dissonance, leadership scholars agree on one thing: They can’t come up with a common definition for leadership. Because of such factors as growing global influences and generational differences, leadership will continue to have different meanings for different people. The bottom line is that leadership is a complex con- cept for which a determined definition may long be in flux.

souRce: adapted from Leadership for the Twenty-First Century, by J. c. Rost, 1991, new york: praeger.

Ways of Conceptualizing Leadership

In the past 60 years, as many as 65 different classification systems have been developed to define the dimensions of leadership (Fleishman et al., 1991). One such classification system, directly related to our discussion, is the scheme proposed by Bass (1990, pp. 11–20). He suggested that some defini- tions view leadership as the focus of group processes. From this perspective, the leader is at the center of group change and activity and embodies the will of the group. Another set of definitions conceptualizes leadership from a per- sonality perspective, which suggests that leadership is a combination of special traits or characteristics that some individuals possess. These traits enable those individuals to induce others to accomplish tasks. Other approaches to leadership define it as an act or a behavior—the things leaders do to bring about change in a group.

In addition, some define leadership in terms of the power relationship that exists between leaders and followers. From this viewpoint, leaders have power that they wield to effect change in others. Others view leadership as a transformational process that moves followers to accomplish more than is usually expected of them. Finally, some scholars address leadership from a skills perspective. This viewpoint stresses the capabilities (knowledge and skills) that make effective leadership possible.

perspectives of Leadership



6 LeaDeRship TheoRy anD pRacTice

Definition and Components

Despite the multitude of ways in which leadership has been conceptualized, the following components can be identified as central to the phenomenon: (a) Leadership is a process, (b) leadership involves influence, (c) leadership occurs in groups, and (d) leadership involves common goals. Based on these components, the following definition of leadership is used in this text:

Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal.

Defining leadership as a process means that it is not a trait or characteristic that resides in the leader, but rather a transactional event that occurs between the leader and the followers. Process implies that a leader affects and is affected by followers. It emphasizes that leadership is not a linear, one-way event, but rather an interactive event. When leadership is defined in this manner, it becomes available to everyone. It is not restricted to the formally designated leader in a group.

Leadership involves influence. It is concerned with how the leader affects followers. Influence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without influence, leadership does not exist.

Leadership occurs in groups. Groups are the context in which leadership takes place. Leadership involves influencing a group of individuals who have a common purpose. This can be a small task group, a community group, or a large group encompassing an entire organization. Leadership is about one individual influencing a group of others to accomplish common goals. Oth- ers (a group) are required for leadership to occur. Leadership training pro- grams that teach people to lead themselves are not considered a part of leadership within the definition that is set forth in this discussion.

Leadership includes attention to common goals. Leaders direct their energies toward individuals who are trying to achieve something together. By common, we mean that the leaders and followers have a mutual purpose. Attention to common goals gives leadership an ethical overtone because it stresses the need for leaders to work with followers to achieve selected goals. Stressing mutuality lessens the possibility that leaders might act toward followers in ways that are forced or unethical. It also increases the possibility that leaders and followers will work together toward a common good (Rost, 1991).

The ethical Dimension of Leadership effective Leadership



chapter 1 introduction 7

Throughout this text, the people who engage in leadership will be called leaders, and those toward whom leadership is directed will be called followers. Both leaders and followers are involved together in the leadership process. Leaders need followers, and followers need leaders (Burns, 1978; Heller & Van Til, 1983; Hollander, 1992; Jago, 1982). Although leaders and followers are closely linked, it is the leader who often initiates the relationship, creates the communication linkages, and carries the burden for maintaining the relationship.

In our discussion of leaders and followers, attention will be directed toward follower issues as well as leader issues. Leaders have an ethical responsibility to attend to the needs and concerns of followers. As Burns (1978) pointed out, discussions of leadership sometimes are viewed as elitist because of the implied power and importance often ascribed to leaders in the leader- follower relationship. Leaders are not above or better than followers. Leaders and followers must be understood in relation to each other (Hollander, 1992) and collectively (Burns, 1978). They are in the leadership relationship together—and are two sides of the same coin (Rost, 1991).

LeadershIp desCrIbed ___________________________

In addition to definitional issues, it is important to discuss several other questions pertaining to the nature of leadership. In the following section, we will address questions such as how leadership as a trait differs from leadership as a process; how appointed leadership differs from emergent leadership; and how the concepts of power, coercion, and management dif- fer from leadership.

Trait Versus Process Leadership

We have all heard statements such as “He is born to be a leader” or “She is a natural leader.” These statements are commonly expressed by people who take a trait perspective toward leadership. The trait perspective suggests that certain individuals have special innate or inborn characteristics or qualities that make them leaders, and that it is these qualities that differentiate them from nonleaders. Some of the personal qualities used to identify leaders include unique physical factors (e.g., height), personality features (e.g., extra- version), and other characteristics (e.g., intelligence and fluency; Bryman, 1992). In Chapter 2, we will discuss a large body of research that has exam- ined these personal qualities.

Development of Leadership Followership



8 LeaDeRship TheoRy anD pRacTice

To describe leadership as a trait is quite different from describing it as a process (Figure 1.1). The trait viewpoint conceptualizes leadership as a prop- erty or set of properties possessed in varying degrees by different people ( Jago, 1982). This suggests that it resides in select people and restricts lead- ership to those who are believed to have special, usually inborn, talents.

The process viewpoint suggests that leadership is a phenomenon that resides in the context of the interactions between leaders and followers and makes leadership available to everyone. As a process, leadership can be observed in leader behaviors ( Jago, 1982), and can be learned. The process definition of leadership is consistent with the definition of leadership that we have set forth in this chapter.

Assigned Versus Emergent Leadership

Some people are leaders because of their formal position in an organization, whereas others are leaders because of the way other group members respond to them. These two common forms of leadership are called assigned leader- ship and emergent leadership. Leadership that is based on occupying a posi- tion in an organization is assigned leadership. Team leaders, plant managers, department heads, directors, and administrators are all examples of assigned leadership.

Yet the person assigned to a leadership position does not always become the real leader in a particular setting. When others perceive an individual as the most influential member of a group or an organization, regardless of the individual’s title, the person is exhibiting emergent leadership. The individual acquires emergent leadership through other people in the organization who support and accept that individual’s behavior. This type of leadership is not assigned by position; rather, it emerges over a period through communication. Some of the positive communication behaviors that account for successful leader emergence include being verbally involved, being informed, seeking others’ opinions, initiating new ideas, and being firm but not rigid (Fisher, 1974).

In addition to communication behaviors, researchers have found that per- sonality plays a role in leadership emergence. For example, Smith and Foti (1998) found that certain personality traits were related to leadership emer- gence in a sample of 160 male college students. The individuals who were more dominant, more intelligent, and more confident about their own per- formance (general self-efficacy) were more likely to be identified as leaders by other members of their task group. Although it is uncertain whether these findings apply to women as well, Smith and Foti suggested that these three traits could be used to identify individuals perceived to be emergent leaders.

Leadership: skill or process?



chapter 1 introduction 9

Leadership emergence may also be affected by gender-biased perceptions. In a study of 40 mixed-sex college groups, Watson and Hoffman (2004) found that women who were urged to persuade their task groups to adopt high-quality decisions succeeded with the same frequency as men with iden- tical instructions. Although women were equally influential leaders in their groups, they were rated significantly lower than comparable men were on leadership. Furthermore, these influential women were also rated as signifi- cantly less likable than comparably influential men were. These results sug- gest that there continue to be barriers to women’s emergence as leaders in some settings.

A unique perspective on leadership emergence is provided by social identity theory (Hogg, 2001). From this perspective, leadership emergence is the degree to which a person fits with the identity of the group as a whole. As groups develop over time, a group prototype also develops. Individuals emerge as leaders in the group when they become most like the group pro- totype. Being similar to the prototype makes leaders attractive to the group and gives them influence with the group.

The leadership approaches we discuss in the subsequent chapters of this book apply equally to assigned leadership and emergent leadership. When a person is engaged in leadership, that person is a leader, whether leadership

figure 1.1 The Different Views of Leadership



Leadership • Height • Intelligence • Extraversion • Fluency • Other Traits

Followers Followers


Leader Leader


souRce: adapted from A Force for Change: How Leadership Differs From Management (pp. 3–8), by J. p. Kotter, 1990, new york: Free press.

ordinary Leaders



10 LeaDeRship TheoRy anD pRacTice

was assigned or emerged. This book focuses on the leadership process that occurs when any individual is engaged in influencing other group members in their efforts to reach a common goal.

Leadership and Power

The concept of power is related to leadership because it is part of the influ- ence process. Power is the capacity or potential to influence. People have power when they have the ability to affect others’ beliefs, attitudes, and courses of action. Judges, doctors, coaches, and teachers are all examples of people who have the potential to influence us. When they do, they are using their power, the resource they draw on to effect change in us.

Although there are no explicit theories in the research literature about power and leadership, power is a concept that people often associate with leader- ship. It is common for people to view leaders (both good and bad) and people in positions of leadership as individuals who wield power over others, and as a result, power is often thought of as synonymous with leadership. In addition, people are often intrigued by how leaders use their power. Studying

power and Leadership Bases of power

Table 1.1 six Bases of power

referent power Based on followers’ identification and liking for the leader. A teacher who is adored by students has referent power.

expert power Based on followers’ perceptions of the leader’s competence. A tour guide who is knowledgeable about a foreign country has expert power.

Legitimate power Associated with having status or formal job authority. A judge who administers sentences in the courtroom exhibits legitimate power.

reward power Derived from having the capacity to provide rewards to others. A supervisor who gives rewards to employees who work hard is using reward power.

Coercive power Derived from having the capacity to penalize or punish others. A coach who sits players on the bench for being late to practice is using coercive power.

Information power

Derived from possessing knowledge that others want or need. A boss who has information regarding new criteria to decide employee promotion eligibility has information power.

souRce: adapted from “The Bases of social power,” by J. R. French Jr. and B. Raven, 1962, in D. cartwright (ed.), Group Dynamics: Research and Theory (pp. 259–269), new york: harper & Row; and “social influence and power,” by B. h. Raven, 1965, in i. D. steiner & M. Fishbein (eds.), Current Studies in Social Psychology (pp. 371–382), new york: holt, Rinehart, & Winston.



chapter 1 introduction 11

how famous leaders, such as Hitler or Alexander the Great, use power to effect change in others is titillating to many people because it underscores that power can indeed effectuate change and maybe if they had power they too could effectuate change. But regardless of people’s general interest in power and leadership, power has not been a major variable in theories of leadership. Clearly it is a component in the overall leadership process, but research on its role is limited.

In her recent book, The End of Leadership (2012), Kellerman argues there has been a shift in leadership power during the last 40 years. Power used to be the domain of leaders, but that is diminishing and shifting to followers. Changes in culture have meant followers demand more from leaders, and leaders have responded. Access to technology has empowered followers, given them access to huge amounts of information, and made leaders more transparent. The result is a decline in respect of leaders and leaders’ legiti- mate power. In effect, followers have used information power to level the playing field. Power is no longer synonymous with leadership, and in the social contract between leaders and followers, leaders wield less power, according to Kellerman.

In college courses today, the most widely cited research on power is French and Raven’s (1959) work on the bases of social power. In their work, they conceptualized power from the framework of a dyadic relationship that included both the person influencing and the person being influenced. French and Raven identified five common and important bases of power—referent, expert, legitimate, reward, and coercive—and Raven (1965) identified a sixth, information power (Table 1.1). Each of these bases of power increases a lead- er’s capacity to influence the attitudes, values, or behaviors of others.

In organizations, there are two major kinds of power: position power and personal power. Position power is the power a person derives from a particular office or rank in a formal organizational system. It is the influence

Types of power

Table 1.2 Types and Bases of power

Position Power Personal Power

Legitimate Referent Reward Expert Coercive


souRce: adapted from A Force for Change: How Leadership Differs From Management (pp. 3–8), by J. p. Kotter, 1990, new york: Free press.



12 LeaDeRship TheoRy anD pRacTice

capacity a leader derives from having higher status than the followers have. Vice presidents and department heads have more power than staff personnel do because of the positions they hold in the organization. Position power includes legitimate, reward, coercive, and information power (Table 1.2).

Personal power is the influence capacity a leader derives from being seen by followers as likable and knowledgeable. When leaders act in ways that are important to followers, it gives leaders power. For example, some managers have power because their followers consider them to be good role models. Others have power because their followers view them as highly competent or considerate. In both cases, these managers’ power is ascribed to them by others, based on how they are seen in their relationships with others. Per- sonal power includes referent and expert power (Table 1.2).

In discussions of leadership, it is not unusual for leaders to be described as wielders of power, as individuals who dominate others. In these instances, power is conceptualized as a tool that leaders use to achieve their own ends. Contrary to this view of power, Burns (1978) emphasized power from a relationship standpoint. For Burns, power is not an entity that leaders use over others to achieve their own ends; instead, power occurs in relationships. It should be used by leaders and followers to promote their collective goals.

In this text, our discussions of leadership treat power as a relational concern for both leaders and followers. We pay attention to how leaders work with followers to reach common goals.

Leadership and Coercion

Coercive power is one of the specific kinds of power available to leaders. Coercion involves the use of force to effect change. To coerce means to influ- ence others to do something against their will and may include manipulating penalties and rewards in their work environment. Coercion often involves the use of threats, punishment, and negative reward schedules. Classic examples of coercive leaders are Adolf Hitler in Germany, the Taliban leaders in Afghanistan, Jim Jones in Guyana, and North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il, each of whom has used power and restraint to force followers to engage in extreme behaviors.

It is important to distinguish between coercion and leadership because it allows us to separate out from our examples of leadership the behaviors of individuals such as Hitler, the Taliban, and Jones. In our discussions of leadership, coercive people are not used as models of ideal leadership. Our

Leadership and coercion



chapter 1 introduction 13

definition suggests that leadership is reserved for those who influence a group of individuals toward a common goal. Leaders who use coercion are interested in their own goals and seldom are interested in the wants and needs of followers. Using coercion runs counter to working with followers to achieve a common goal.

Leadership and Management

Leadership is a process that is similar to management in many ways. Leader- ship involves influence, as does management. Leadership entails working with people, which management entails as well. Leadership is concerned with effective goal accomplishment, and so is management. In general, many of the functions of management are activities that are consistent with the definition of leadership we set forth at the beginning of this chapter.

But leadership is also different from management. Whereas the study of leadership can be traced back to Aristotle, management emerged around the turn of the 20th century with the advent of our industrialized society. Man- agement was created as a way to reduce chaos in organizations, to make them run more effectively and efficiently. The primary functions of manage- ment, as first identified by Fayol (1916), were planning, organizing, staffing, and controlling. These functions are still representative of the field of man- agement today.

In a book that compared the functions of management with the functions of leadership, Kotter (1990) argued that the functions of the two are quite dis- similar (Figure 1.2). The overriding function of management is to provide order and consistency to organizations, whereas the primary function of leadership is to produce change and movement. Management is about seek- ing order and stability; leadership is about seeking adaptive and constructive change.

As illustrated in Figure 1.2, the major activities of management are played out differently than the activities of leadership. Although they are different in scope, Kotter (1990, pp. 7–8) contended that both management and lead- ership are essential if an organization is to prosper. For example, if an orga- nization has strong management without leadership, the outcome can be stifling and bureaucratic. Conversely, if an organization has strong leadership without management, the outcome can be meaningless or misdirected change for change’s sake. To be effective, organizations need to nourish both competent management and skilled leadership.

Managers Require; Leaders inspire



14 LeaDeRship TheoRy anD pRacTice

figure 1.2 Functions of Management and Leadership

Management produces Order and Consistency

Leadership produces Change and Movement

Planning and Budgeting • Establish agendas • Set timetables • Allocate resources

Establishing Direction • Create a vision • Clarify big picture • Set strategies

Organizing and Staffing • Provide structure • Make job placements • Establish rules and


Aligning People • Communicate goals • Seek commitment • Build teams and coalitions

Controlling and Problem Solving • Develop incentives • Generate creative solutions • Take corrective action

Motivating and Inspiring • Inspire and energize • Empower followers • Satisfy unmet needs

souRce: adapted from A Force for Change: How Leadership Differs From Management (pp. 3–8), by J. p. Kotter, 1990, new york: Free press.

Many scholars, in addition to Kotter (1990), argue that leadership and man- agement are distinct constructs. For example, Bennis and Nanus (1985) maintained that there is a significant difference between the two. To manage means to accomplish activities and master routines, whereas to lead means to influence others and create visions for change. Bennis and Nanus made the distinction very clear in their frequently quoted sentence, “Managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right thing” (p. 221).

Rost (1991) has also been a proponent of distinguishing between leadership and management. He contended that leadership is a multidirectional influ- ence relationship and management is a unidirectional authority relationship. Whereas leadership is concerned with the process of developing mutual pur- poses, management is directed toward coordinating activities in order to get a job done. Leaders and followers work together to create real change, whereas managers and subordinates join forces to sell goods and services (Rost, 1991, pp. 149–152).

In a recent study, Simonet and Tett (2012) explored how leadership and management are best conceptualized by having 43 experts identify the over- lap and differences between leadership and management in regard to 63 different competencies. They found a large number of competencies (22)

Leadership in the nhs



chapter 1 introduction 15

descriptive of both leadership and management (e.g., productivity, customer focus, professionalism, and goal setting), but they also found several unique descriptors for each. Specifically, they found leadership was distinguished by motivating intrinsically, creative thinking, strategic planning, tolerance of ambiguity, and being able to read people, and management was distinguished by rule orientation, short-term planning, motivating extrinsically, orderli- ness, safety concerns, and timeliness.

Approaching the issue from a narrower viewpoint, Zaleznik (1977) went so far as to argue that leaders and managers themselves are distinct, and that they are basically different types of people. He contended that managers are reactive and prefer to work with people to solve problems but do so with low emotional involvement. They act to limit choices. Zaleznik suggested that leaders, on the other hand, are emotionally active and involved. They seek to shape ideas instead of responding to them and act to expand the available options to solve long-standing problems. Leaders change the way people think about what is possible.

Although there are clear differences between management and leadership, the two constructs overlap. When managers are involved in influencing a group to meet its goals, they are involved in leadership. When leaders are involved in planning, organizing, staffing, and controlling, they are involved in management. Both processes involve influencing a group of individuals toward goal attainment. For purposes of our discussion in this book, we focus on the leadership process. In our examples and case studies, we treat the roles of managers and leaders similarly and do not emphasize the differ- ences between them.

pLan Of The bOOk _______________________________

This book is user-friendly. It is based on substantive theories but is written to emphasize practice and application. Each chapter in the book follows the same format. The first section of each chapter briefly describes the leader- ship approach and discusses various research studies applicable to the approach. The second section of each chapter evaluates the approach, high- lighting its strengths and criticisms. Special attention is given to how the approach contributes or fails to contribute to an overall understanding of the leadership process. The next section uses case studies to prompt discus- sion of how the approach can be applied in ongoing organizations. Finally, each chapter provides a leadership questionnaire along with a discussion of how the questionnaire measures the reader’s leadership style. Each chapter ends with a summary and references.

Leadership and nursing Theory



16 LeaDeRship TheoRy anD pRacTice

suMMary _______________________________________

Leadership is a topic with universal appeal; in the popular press and aca- demic research literature, much has been written about leadership. Despite the abundance of writing on the topic, leadership has presented a major challenge to practitioners and researchers interested in understanding the nature of leadership. It is a highly valued phenomenon that is very complex.

Through the years, leadership has been defined and conceptualized in many ways. The component common to nearly all classifications is that leadership is an influence process that assists groups of individuals toward goal attain- ment. Specifically, in this book leadership is defined as a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal.

Because both leaders and followers are part of the leadership process, it is important to address issues that confront followers as well as issues that confront leaders. Leaders and followers should be understood in relation to each other.

In prior research, many studies have focused on leadership as a trait. The trait perspective suggests that certain people in our society have special inborn qualities that make them leaders. This view restricts leadership to those who are believed to have special characteristics. In contrast, the approach in this text suggests that leadership is a process that can be learned, and that it is available to everyone.

Two common forms of leadership are assigned and emergent. Assigned leader- ship is based on a formal title or position in an organization. Emergent lead- ership results from what one does and how one acquires support from fol- lowers. Leadership, as a process, applies to individuals in both assigned roles and emergent roles.

Related to leadership is the concept of power, the potential to influence. There are two major kinds of power: position and personal. Position power, which is much like assigned leadership, is the power an individual derives from having a title in a formal organizational system. It includes legitimate, reward, infor- mation, and coercive power. Personal power comes from followers and includes referent and expert power. Followers give it to leaders because followers believe leaders have something of value. Treating power as a shared resource is impor- tant because it deemphasizes the idea that leaders are power wielders.

While coercion has been a common power brought to bear by many indi- viduals in charge, it should not be viewed as ideal leadership. Our definition



chapter 1 introduction 17

of leadership stresses using influence to bring individuals toward a common goal, while coercion involves the use of threats and punishment to induce change in followers for the sake of the leaders. Coercion runs counter to leadership because it does not treat leadership as a process that emphasizes working with followers to achieve shared objectives.

Leadership and management are different concepts that overlap. They are different in that management traditionally focuses on the activities of plan- ning, organizing, staffing, and controlling, whereas leadership emphasizes the general influence process. According to some researchers, management is concerned with creating order and stability, whereas leadership is about adaptation and constructive change. Other researchers go so far as to argue that managers and leaders are different types of people, with managers being more reactive and less emotionally involved and leaders being more proactive and more emotionally involved. The overlap between leadership and man- agement is centered on how both involve influencing a group of individuals in goal attainment.

In this book, we discuss leadership as a complex process. Based on the research literature, we describe selected approaches to leadership and assess how they can be used to improve leadership in real situations.

sharpen your skills with saGe edge at edge.sagepub.com/northouse7e

referenCes ______________________________________

Bass, B. M. (1990). Bass and Stogdill ’s handbook of leadership: A survey of theory and research. New York: Free Press.

Bennis, W. G., & Nanus, B. (1985). Leaders: The strategies for taking charge. New York: Harper & Row.

Bryman, A. (1992). Charisma and leadership in organizations. London: SAGE. Bryman, A., Collinson, D., Grint, K., Jackson, G., & Uhl-Bien, M. (Eds.). (2011).

The SAGE handbook of leadership. London: SAGE. Burns, J. M. (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper & Row. Copeland, N. (1942). Psychology and the soldier. Harrisburg, PA: Military Service

Publications. Day, D. V., & Antonakis, J. (Eds.). (2012). The nature of leadership (2nd ed.). Thousand

Oaks, CA: SAGE. Fayol, H. (1916). General and industrial management. London: Pitman. Fisher, B. A. (1974). Small group decision making: Communication and the group process.

New York: McGraw-Hill.



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Fleishman, E. A., Mumford, M. D., Zaccaro, S. J., Levin, K. Y., Korotkin, A. L., & Hein, M. B. (1991). Taxonomic efforts in the description of leader behavior: A synthesis and functional interpretation. Leadership Quarterly, 2(4), 245–287.

French, J. R., Jr., & Raven, B. H. (1959). The bases of social power. In D. Cartwright (Ed.), Studies in social power (pp. 259–269). Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research.

Gardner, J. W. (1990). On leadership. New York: Free Press. Heller, T., & Van Til, J. (1983). Leadership and followership: Some summary propo-

sitions. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 18, 405–414. Hemphill, J. K. (1949). Situational factors in leadership. Columbus: Ohio State Uni-

versity, Bureau of Educational Research. Hickman, G. R. (Ed.). (2009). Leading organizations: Perspectives for a new era (2nd

ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. Hogg, M. A. (2001). A social identity theory of leadership. Personality and Social

Psychology Review, 5, 184–200. Hollander, E. P. (1992). Leadership, followership, self, and others. Leadership Quar-

terly, 3(1), 43–54. Jago, A. G. (1982). Leadership: Perspectives in theory and research. Management Sci-

ence, 28(3), 315–336. Kellerman, B. (2012). The end of leadership. New York: HarperCollins. Kotter, J. P. (1990). A force for change: How leadership differs from management. New

York: Free Press. Moore, B. V. (1927). The May conference on leadership. Personnel Journal, 6, 124–128. Mumford, M. D. (2006). Pathways to outstanding leadership: A comparative analysis of

charismatic, ideological, and pragmatic leaders. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Peters, T. J., & Waterman, R. H. (1982). In search of excellence: Lessons from America’s

best-run companies. New York: Warner Books. Raven, B. H. (1965). Social influence and power. In I. D. Steiner & M. Fishbein

(Eds.), Current studies in social psychology (pp. 371–382). New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.

Rost, J. C. (1991). Leadership for the twenty-first century. New York: Praeger. Seeman, M. (1960). Social status and leadership. Columbus: Ohio State University,

Bureau of Educational Research. Simonet, D. V., & Tett, R. P. (2012). Five perspectives on the leadership-management

relationship: A competency-based evaluation and integration. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 20(2), 199–213.

Smith, J. A., & Foti, R. J. (1998). A pattern approach to the study of leader emergence. Leadership Quarterly, 9(2), 147–160.

Stogdill, R. M. (1974). Handbook of leadership: A survey of theory and research. New York: Free Press.

Watson, C., & Hoffman, L. R. (2004). The role of task-related behavior in the emer- gence of leaders. Group & Organization Management, 29(6), 659–685.

Zaleznik, A. (1977, May–June). Managers and leaders: Are they different? Harvard Business Review, 55, 67–78.




Trait Approach

DescripTion _____________________________________

Of interest to scholars throughout the 20th century, the trait approach was one of the first systematic attempts to study leadership. In the early 20th century, leadership traits were studied to determine what made certain people great leaders. The theories that were developed were called “great man” theories because they focused on identifying the innate qualities and characteristics possessed by great social, political, and military leaders (e.g., Catherine the Great, Mohandas Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc, and Napoleon Bonaparte). It was believed that people were born with these traits, and that only the “great” people possessed them. During this time, research concentrated on determining the specific traits that clearly differentiated leaders from followers (Bass, 1990; Jago, 1982).

In the mid-20th century, the trait approach was challenged by research that questioned the universality of leadership traits. In a major review, Stogdill (1948) suggested that no consistent set of traits differentiated leaders from nonleaders across a variety of situations. An individual with leadership traits who was a leader in one situation might not be a leader in another situation. Rather than being a quality that individuals possess, leadership was reconceptualized as a relationship between people in a social situation. Personal factors related to leadership continued to be important, but researchers contended that these factors were to be considered as relative to the requirements of the situation.

The trait approach has generated much interest among researchers for its explanation of how traits influence leadership (Bryman, 1992). For example, an analysis of much of the previous trait research by Lord, DeVader, and

Heroic Women What Traits Do Leaders Have?



20 LeaDersHip THeory anD pracTice

Alliger (1986) found that traits were strongly associated with individuals’ perceptions of leadership. Similarly, Kirkpatrick and Locke (1991) went so far as to claim that effective leaders are actually distinct types of people in several key respects.

The trait approach has earned new interest through the current emphasis given by many researchers to visionary and charismatic leadership (see Bass, 1990; Bennis & Nanus, 1985; Nadler & Tushman, 1989; Zaccaro, 2007; Zaleznik, 1977). Charismatic leadership catapulted to the forefront of public attention with the 2008 election of the United States’ first African American president, Barack Obama, who is perceived by many to be charismatic, among many other attributes. In a study to determine what distinguishes charismatic leaders from others, Jung and Sosik (2006) found that charismatic leaders consistently possess traits of self-monitoring, engagement in impression management, motivation to attain social power, and motivation to attain self-actualization. In short, the trait approach is alive and well. It began with an emphasis on identifying the qualities of great persons, shifted to include the impact of situations on leadership, and, currently, has shifted back to reemphasize the critical role of traits in effective leadership.

Although the research on traits spanned the entire 20th century, a good overview of this approach is found in two surveys completed by Stogdill (1948, 1974). In his first survey, Stogdill analyzed and synthesized more than 124 trait studies conducted between 1904 and 1947. In his second study, he analyzed another 163 studies completed between 1948 and 1970. By taking a closer look at each of these reviews, we can obtain a clearer picture of how individuals’ traits contribute to the leadership process.

Stogdill’s first survey identified a group of important leadership traits that were related to how individuals in various groups became leaders. His results showed that the average individual in the leadership role is different from an average group member with regard to the following eight traits: intelligence, alertness, insight, responsibility, initiative, persistence, self-confidence, and sociability.

The findings of Stogdill’s first survey also indicated that an individual does not become a leader solely because that individual possesses certain traits. Rather, the traits that leaders possess must be relevant to situations in which the leader is functioning. As stated earlier, leaders in one situation may not necessarily be leaders in another situation. Findings showed that leadership was not a passive state but resulted from a working relationship between the leader and other group members. This research marked the beginning of a

Great Man Theory impression Management



chapter 2 Trait approach 21

new approach to leadership research that focused on leadership behaviors and leadership situations.

Stogdill’s second survey, published in 1974, analyzed 163 new studies and compared the findings of these studies to the findings he had reported in his first survey. The second survey was more balanced in its description of the role of traits and leadership. Whereas the first survey implied that leadership is determined principally by situational factors and not traits, the second survey argued more moderately that both traits and situational factors were determinants of leadership. In essence, the second survey validated the original trait idea that a leader’s characteristics are indeed a part of leadership.

Similar to the first survey, Stogdill’s second survey also identified traits that were positively associated with leadership. The list included the following 10 characteristics:

1. drive for responsibility and task completion;

2. vigor and persistence in pursuit of goals;

3. risk taking and originality in problem solving;

4. drive to exercise initiative in social situations;

5. self-confidence and sense of personal identity;

6. willingness to accept consequences of decision and action;

7. readiness to absorb interpersonal stress;

8. willingness to tolerate frustration and delay;

9. ability to influence other people’s behavior; and

10. capacity to structure social interaction systems to the purpose at hand.

Mann (1959) conducted a similar study that examined more than 1,400 findings regarding traits and leadership in small groups, but he placed less emphasis on how situational factors influenced leadership. Although tentative in his conclusions, Mann suggested that certain traits could be used to distinguish leaders from nonleaders. His results identified leaders as strong in the following six traits: intelligence, masculinity, adjustment, dominance, extraversion, and conservatism.

Trait Leadership everyday Leaders



22 LeaDersHip THeory anD pracTice

Lord et al. (1986) reassessed Mann’s (1959) findings using a more sophisticated procedure called meta-analysis. Lord et al. found that intelligence, masculinity, and dominance were significantly related to how individuals perceived leaders. From their findings, the authors argued strongly that traits could be used to make discriminations consistently across situations between leaders and nonleaders.

Both of these studies were conducted during periods in American history where male leadership was prevalent in most aspects of business and society. In Chapter 15, we explore more contemporary research regarding the role of gender in leadership, and we look at whether traits such as masculinity and dominance still bear out as important factors in distinguishing between leaders and nonleaders.

Yet another review argues for the importance of leadership traits: Kirkpatrick and Locke (1991, p. 59) contended that “it is unequivocally clear that leaders are not like other people.” From a qualitative synthesis of earlier research, Kirkpatrick and Locke postulated that leaders differ from nonleaders on six traits: drive, motivation, integrity, confidence, cognitive ability, and task knowledge. According to these writers, individuals can be born with these traits, they can learn them, or both. It is these six traits that make up the

Table 2.1 studies of Leadership Traits and characteristics

Stogdill (1948) Mann (1959) Stogdill (1974)

Lord, DeVader, and Alliger (1986)

Kirkpatrick and Locke (1991)

Zaccaro, Kemp, and Bader (2004)

intelligence alertness insight responsibility initiative persistence self-confidence sociability

intelligence masculinity adjustment dominance extraversion conservatism

achievement persistence insight initiative self-confidence responsibility cooperativeness tolerance influence sociability

intelligence masculinity dominance

drive motivation integrity confidence cognitive ability task knowledge

cognitive abilities extraversion conscientiousness emotional stability openness agreeableness motivation social intelligence self-monitoring emotional intelligence problem solving

soUrces: adapted from “The Bases of social power,” by J. r. p. French, Jr., and B. raven, 1962, in D. cartwright (ed.), Group Dynamics: Research and Theory (pp. 259–269), new york: Harper and row; Zaccaro, Kemp, & Bader (2004).

Leadership presence Florence nightingale



chapter 2 Trait approach 23

“right stuff ” for leaders. Kirkpatrick and Locke contended that leadership traits make some people different from others, and this difference should be recognized as an important part of the leadership process.

In the 1990s, researchers began to investigate the leadership traits associated with “social intelligence,” characterized as those abilities to understand one’s own and others’ feelings, behaviors, and thoughts and to act appropriately (Marlowe, 1986). Zaccaro (2002) defined social intelligence as having such capacities as social awareness, social acumen, self-monitoring, and the ability to select and enact the best response given the contingencies of the situation and social environment. A number of empirical studies showed these capacities to be a key trait for effective leaders. Zaccaro, Kemp, and Bader (2004) included such social abilities in the categories of leadership traits they outlined as important leadership attributes (see Table 2.1).

Table 2.1 provides a summary of the traits and characteristics that were identified by researchers from the trait approach. It illustrates clearly the breadth of traits related to leadership. Table 2.1 also shows how difficult it is to select certain traits as definitive leadership traits; some of the traits appear in several of the survey studies, whereas others appear in only one or two studies. Regardless of the lack of precision in Table 2.1, however, it represents a general convergence of research regarding which traits are leadership traits.

What, then, can be said about trait research? What has a century of research on the trait approach given us that is useful? The answer is an extended list of traits that individuals might hope to possess or wish to cultivate if they want to be perceived by others as leaders. Some of the traits that are central to this list include intelligence, self-confidence, determination, integrity, and sociability (Table 2.2).


Intelligence or intellectual ability is positively related to leadership. Based on their analysis of a series of recent studies on intelligence and various indices of leadership, Zaccaro et al. (2004) found support for the finding that leaders tend to have higher intelligence than nonleaders. Having strong verbal

emotional and other intelligences

Table 2.2 Major Leadership Traits

• Intelligence • Self-confidence • Determination

• Integrity • Sociability



24 LeaDersHip THeory anD pracTice

ability, perceptual ability, and reasoning appears to make one a better leader. Although it is good to be bright, the research also indicates that a leader’s intellectual ability should not differ too much from that of the subordinates. If the leader’s IQ is very different from that of the followers, it can have a counterproductive impact on leadership. Leaders with higher abilities may have difficulty communicating with followers because they are preoccupied or because their ideas are too advanced for their followers to accept.

An example of a leader for whom intelligence was a key trait was Steve Jobs, founder and CEO of Apple who died in 2011. Jobs once said, “I have this really incredible product inside me and I have to get it out” (Sculley, 2011, p. 27). Those visionary products, first the Apple II and Macintosh computers and then the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad, have revolutionized the personal computer and electronic device industry, changing the way people play and work.

In the next chapter of this text, which addresses leadership from a skills perspective, intelligence is identified as a trait that significantly contributes to a leader’s acquisition of complex problem-solving skills and social judgment skills. Intelligence is described as having a positive impact on an individual’s capacity for effective leadership.


Self-confidence is another trait that helps one to be a leader. Self-confidence is the ability to be certain about one’s competencies and skills. It includes a sense of self-esteem and self-assurance and the belief that one can make a difference. Leadership involves influencing others, and self-confidence allows the leader to feel assured that his or her attempts to influence others are appropriate and right.

Again, Steve Jobs is a good example of a self-confident leader. When Jobs described the devices he wanted to create, many people said they weren’t possible. But Jobs never doubted his products would change the world, and, despite resistance, he did things the way he thought best. “Jobs was one of those CEOs who ran the company like he wanted to. He believed he knew more about it than anyone else, and he probably did,” said a colleague (Stone, 2011).


Many leaders also exhibit determination. Determination is the desire to get the job done and includes characteristics such as initiative, persistence,

political Leadership steve Jobs



chapter 2 Trait approach 25

dominance, and drive. People with determination are willing to assert themselves, are proactive, and have the capacity to persevere in the face of obstacles. Being determined includes showing dominance at times and in situations where followers need to be directed.

Dr. Paul Farmer has shown determination in his efforts to secure health care and eradicate tuberculosis for the very poor of Haiti and other third world countries. He began his efforts as a recent college graduate, traveling and working in Cange, Haiti. While there, he was accepted to Harvard Medical School. Knowing that his work in Haiti was invaluable to his training, he managed to do both: spending months traveling back and forth between Haiti and Cambridge, Massachusetts, for school. His first effort in Cange was to establish a one-room clinic where he treated “all comers” and trained local health care workers. Farmer found that there was more to providing health care than just dispensing medicine: He secured donations to build schools, houses, and communal sanitation and water facilities in the region. He spearheaded vaccinations of all the children in the area, dramatically reducing malnutrition and infant mortality. In order to keep working in Haiti, he returned to America and founded Partners In Health, a charitable foundation that raises money to fund these efforts. Since its founding, PIH not only has succeeded in improving the health of many communities in Haiti but now has projects in Haiti, Lesotho, Malawi, Peru, Russia, Rwanda, and the United States, and supports other projects in Mexico and Guatemala (Kidder, 2004; Partners In Health, 2014).


Integrity is another of the important leadership traits. Integrity is the quality of honesty and trustworthiness. People who adhere to a strong set of principles and take responsibility for their actions are exhibiting integrity. Leaders with integrity inspire confidence in others because they can be trusted to do what they say they are going to do. They are loyal, dependable, and not deceptive. Basically, integrity makes a leader believable and worthy of our trust.

In our society, integrity has received a great deal of attention in recent years. For example, as a result of two situations—the position taken by President George W. Bush regarding Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction and the impeachment proceedings during the Clinton presidency—people are demanding more honesty of their public officials. Similarly, scandals in the corporate world (e.g., Enron and WorldCom) have led people to become skeptical of leaders who are not highly ethical. In the educational arena, new

Terry Fox consultant nurses



26 LeaDersHip THeory anD pracTice

K–12 curricula are being developed to teach character, values, and ethical leadership. (For instance, see the Character Counts! program developed by the Josephson Institute of Ethics in California at www.charactercounts.org, and the Pillars of Leadership program taught at the J. W. Fanning Institute for Leadership in Georgia at www.fanning.uga.edu.) In short, society is demanding greater integrity of character in its leaders.


A final trait that is important for leaders is sociability. Sociability is a leader’s inclination to seek out pleasant social relationships. Leaders who show sociability are friendly, outgoing, courteous, tactful, and diplomatic. They are sensitive to others’ needs and show concern for their well-being. Social leaders have good interpersonal skills and create cooperative relationships with their followers.

An example of a leader with great sociability skills is Michael Hughes, a university president. Hughes prefers to walk to all his meetings because it gets him out on campus where he greets students, staff, and faculty. He has lunch in the dorm cafeterias or student union and will often ask a table of strangers if he can sit with them. Students rate him as very approachable, while faculty say he has an open-door policy. In addition, he takes time to write personal notes to faculty, staff, and students to congratulate them on their successes.

Although our discussion of leadership traits has focused on five major traits (i.e., intelligence, self-confidence, determination, integrity, and sociability), this list is not all-inclusive. While other traits indicated in Table 2.1 are associated with effective leadership, the five traits we have identified contribute substantially to one’s capacity to be a leader.

Until recently, most reviews of leadership traits have been qualitative. In addition, they have lacked a common organizing framework. However, the research described in the following section provides a quantitative assessment of leadership traits that is conceptually framed around the five-factor model of personality. It describes how five major personality traits are related to leadership.

Five-Factor Personality Model and Leadership

Over the past 25 years, a consensus has emerged among researchers regarding the basic factors that make up what we call personality (Goldberg, 1990;




chapter 2 Trait approach 27

McCrae & Costa, 1987). These factors, commonly called the Big Five, are neuroticism, extraversion (surgency), openness (intellect), agreeableness, and conscientiousness (dependability). (See Table 2.3.)

To assess the links between the Big Five and leadership, Judge, Bono, Ilies, and Gerhardt (2002) conducted a major meta-analysis of 78 leadership and personality studies published between 1967 and 1998. In general, Judge et al. found a strong relationship between the Big Five traits and leadership. It appears that having certain personality traits is associated with being an effective leader.

Specifically, in their study, extraversion was the factor most strongly associated with leadership. It is the most important trait of effective leaders. Extraversion was followed, in order, by conscientiousness, openness, and low neuroticism. The last factor, agreeableness, was found to be only weakly associated with leadership.

Emotional Intelligence

Another way of assessing the impact of traits on leadership is through the concept of emotional intelligence, which emerged in the 1990s as an important area of study in psychology. It has been widely studied by researchers, and has captured the attention of many practitioners (Caruso & Wolfe, 2004; Goleman, 1995, 1998; Mayer & Salovey, 1995, 1997; Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2000; Shankman & Allen, 2008).

Table 2.3 Big Five personality Factors

neuroticism The tendency to be depressed, anxious, insecure, vulnerable, and hostile

extraversion The tendency to be sociable and assertive and to have positive energy

openness The tendency to be informed, creative, insightful, and curious

Agreeableness The tendency to be accepting, conforming, trusting, and nurturing

conscientiousness The tendency to be thorough, organized, controlled, dependable, and decisive

soUrce: Goldberg, L. r. (1990). an alternative “description of personality”: The big-five factor structure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 1216–1229.

emotional intelligence



28 LeaDersHip THeory anD pracTice

As the two words suggest, emotional intelligence has to do with our emotions (affective domain) and thinking (cognitive domain), and the interplay between the two. Whereas intelligence is concerned with our ability to learn information and apply it to life tasks, emotional intelligence is concerned with our ability to understand emotions and apply this understanding to life’s tasks. Specifically, emotional intelligence can be defined as the ability to perceive and express emotions, to use emotions to facilitate thinking, to understand and reason with emotions, and to effectively manage emotions within oneself and in relationships with others (Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2000).

There are different ways to measure emotional intelligence. One scale is the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT; Mayer, Caruso, & Salovey, 2000). The MSCEIT measures emotional intelligence as a set of mental abilities, including the abilities to perceive, facilitate, understand, and manage emotion.

Goleman (1995, 1998) takes a broader approach to emotional intelligence, suggesting that it consists of a set of personal and social competencies. Personal competence consists of self-awareness, confidence, self-regulation, conscientiousness, and motivation. Social competence consists of empathy and social skills such as communication and conflict management.

Shankman and Allen (2008) developed a practice-oriented model of emotionally intelligent leadership, which suggests that leaders must be conscious of three fundamental facets of leadership: context, self, and others. In the model, emotionally intelligent leaders are defined by 21 capacities to which a leader should pay attention, including group savvy, optimism, initiative, and teamwork.

There is a debate in the field regarding how big a role emotional intelligence plays in helping people be successful in life. Some researchers, such as Goleman (1995), suggested that emotional intelligence plays a major role in whether people are successful at school, home, and work. Others, such as Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso (2000), made softer claims for the significance of emotional intelligence in meeting life’s challenges.

As a leadership ability or trait, emotional intelligence appears to be an important construct. The underlying premise suggested by this framework is that people who are more sensitive to their emotions and the impact of their emotions on others will be leaders who are more effective. As more research is conducted on emotional intelligence, the intricacies of how emotional intelligence relates to leadership will be better understood.

emergent Leadership



chapter 2 Trait approach 29

How Does THe TrAiT ApproAcH work? _________

The trait approach is very different from the other approaches discussed in subsequent chapters because it focuses exclusively on the leader, not on the followers or the situation. This makes the trait approach theoretically more straightforward than other approaches. In essence, the trait approach is concerned with what traits leaders exhibit and who has these traits.

The trait approach does not lay out a set of hypotheses or principles about what kind of leader is needed in a certain situation or what a leader should do, given a particular set of circumstances. Instead, this approach emphasizes that having a leader with a certain set of traits is crucial to having effective leadership. It is the leader and the leader’s traits that are central to the leadership process.

The trait approach suggests that organizations will work better if the people in managerial positions have designated leadership profiles. To find the right people, it is common for organizations to use trait assessment instruments. The assumption behind these procedures is that selecting the right people will increase organizational effectiveness. Organizations can specify the characteristics or traits that are important to them for particular positions and then use trait assessment measures to determine whether an individual fits their needs.

The trait approach is also used for personal awareness and development. By analyzing their own traits, managers can gain an idea of their strengths and weaknesses, and can get a feel for how others in the organization see them. A trait assessment can help managers determine whether they have the qualities to move up or to move to other positions in the company.

A trait assessment gives individuals a clearer picture of who they are as leaders and how they fit into the organizational hierarchy. In areas where their traits are lacking, leaders can try to make changes in what they do or where they work to increase their traits’ potential impact.

Near the end of the chapter, a leadership instrument is provided that you can use to assess your leadership traits. This instrument is typical of the kind of assessments that companies use to evaluate individuals’ leadership potential. As you will discover by completing this instrument, trait measures are a good way to assess your own characteristics.

introvert contributions



30 LeaDersHip THeory anD pracTice

sTrengTHs ______________________________________

The trait approach has several identifiable strengths. First, the trait approach is intuitively appealing. It fits clearly with our notion that leaders are the individuals who are out front and leading the way in our society. The image in the popular press and community at large is that leaders are a special kind of people—people with gifts who can do extraordinary things. The trait approach is consistent with this perception because it is built on the premise that leaders are different, and their difference resides in the special traits they possess. People have a need to see their leaders as gifted people, and the trait approach fulfills this need.

A second strength of the trait approach is that it has a century of research to back it up. No other theory can boast of the breadth and depth of studies conducted on the trait approach. The strength and longevity of this line of research give the trait approach a measure of credibility that other approaches lack. Out of this abundance of research has emerged a body of data that points to the important role of various traits in the leadership process.

Another strength, more conceptual in nature, results from the way the trait approach highlights the leader component in the leadership process. Leadership is composed of leaders, followers, and situations, but the trait approach is devoted to only the first of these—leaders. Although this is also a potential weakness, by focusing exclusively on the role of the leader in leadership the trait approach has been able to provide us with a deeper and more intricate understanding of how the leader and the leader’s traits are related to the leadership process.

Last, the trait approach has given us some benchmarks for what we need to look for if we want to be leaders. It identifies what traits we should have and whether the traits we do have are the best traits for leadership. Based on the findings of this approach, trait assessment procedures can be used to offer invaluable information to supervisors and managers about their strengths and weaknesses and ways to improve their overall leadership effectiveness.

criTicisms _______________________________________

In addition to its strengths, the trait approach has several weaknesses. First and foremost is the failure of the trait approach to delimit a definitive list of leadership traits. Although an enormous number of studies have been conducted over the past 100 years, the findings from these studies have

character Traits



chapter 2 Trait approach 31

been ambiguous and uncertain at times. Furthermore, the list of traits that has emerged appears endless. This is obvious from Table 2.1, which lists a multitude of traits. In fact, these are only a sample of the many leadership traits that were studied.

Another criticism is that the trait approach has failed to take situations into account. As Stogdill (1948) pointed out more than 60 years ago, it is difficult to isolate a set of traits that are characteristic of leaders without also factoring situational effects into the equation. People who possess certain traits that make them leaders in one situation may not be leaders in another situation. Some people may have the traits that help them emerge as leaders but not the traits that allow them to maintain their leadership over time. In other words, the situation influences leadership. It is therefore difficult to identify a universal set of leadership traits in isolation from the context in which the leadership occurs.

A third criticism, derived from the prior two criticisms, is that this approach has resulted in highly subjective determinations of the most important leadership traits. Because the findings on traits have been so extensive and broad, there has been much subjective interpretation of the meaning of the data. This subjectivity is readily apparent in the many self-help, practice- oriented management books. For example, one author might identify ambition and creativity as crucial leadership traits; another might identify empathy and calmness. In both cases, it is the author’s subjective experience and observations that are the basis for the identified leadership traits. These books may be helpful to readers because they identify and describe important leadership traits, but the methods used to generate these lists of traits are weak. To respond to people’s need for a set of definitive traits of leaders, authors have set forth lists of traits, even if the origins of these lists are not grounded in strong, reliable research.

Research on traits can also be criticized for failing to look at traits in relationship to leadership outcomes. This research has emphasized the identification of traits, but has not addressed how leadership traits affect group members and their work. In trying to ascertain universal leadership traits, researchers have focused on the link between specific traits and leader emergence, but they have not tried to link leader traits with other outcomes such as productivity or employee satisfaction. For example, trait research does not provide data on whether leaders who might have high intelligence and strong integrity have better results than leaders without these traits. The trait approach is weak in describing how leaders’ traits affect the outcomes of groups and teams in organizational settings.

effective and ineffective Leaders



32 LeaDersHip THeory anD pracTice

A final criticism of the trait approach is that it is not a useful approach for training and development for leadership. Even if definitive traits could be identified, teaching new traits is not an easy process because traits are not easily changed. For example, it is not reasonable to send managers to a training program to raise their IQ or to train them to become extraverted. The point is that traits are largely fixed psychological structures, and this limits the value of teaching and leadership training.

ApplicATion _____________________________________

Despite its shortcomings, the trait approach provides valuable information about leadership. It can be applied by individuals at all levels and in all types of organizations. Although the trait approach does not provide a definitive set of traits, it does provide direction regarding which traits are good to have if one aspires to a leadership position. By taking trait assessments and other similar questionnaires, people can gain insight into whether they have certain traits deemed important for leadership, and they can pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses with regard to leadership.

As we discussed previously, managers can use information from the trait approach to assess where they stand in their organization and what they need to do to strengthen their position. Trait information can suggest areas in which their personal characteristics are very beneficial to the company and areas in which they may want to get more training to enhance their overall approach. Using trait information, managers can develop a deeper understanding of who they are and how they will affect others in the organization.

cAse sTUDies

In this section, three case studies (Cases 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3) are provided to illustrate the trait approach and to help you understand how the trait approach can be used in making decisions in organizational settings. The settings of the cases are diverse—directing research and development at a large snack food company, running an office supply business, and being head of recruitment for a large bank—but all of the cases deal with trait leadership. At the end of each case, you will find questions that will help in analyzing the cases.

What are My Traits?



chapter 2 Trait approach 33

Case 2.1

choosing a new Director of research

sandra coke is vice president for research and development at Great Lakes Foods (GLF), a large snack food company that has approximately 1,000 employees. as a result of a recent reorganization, sandra must choose the new director of research. The director will report directly to sandra and will be responsible for developing and testing new products. The research division of GLF employs about 200 people. The choice of directors is important because sandra is receiving pressure from the president and board of GLF to improve the company’s overall growth and productivity.

sandra has identified three candidates for the position. each candidate is at the same managerial level. she is having difficulty choosing one of them because each has very strong credentials. alexa smith is a longtime employee of GLF who started part-time in the mailroom while in high school. after finishing school, alexa worked in as many as 10 different positions throughout the company to become manager of new product marketing. performance reviews of alexa’s work have repeatedly described her as being very creative and insightful. in her tenure at GLF, alexa has developed and brought to market four new product lines. alexa is also known throughout GLF as being very persistent about her work: When she starts a project, she stays with it until it is finished. it is probably this quality that accounts for the success of each of the four new products with which she has been involved.

a second candidate for the new position is Kelsey Metts, who has been with GLF for 5 years and is manager of quality control for established products. Kelsey has a reputation for being very bright. Before joining GLF, she received her MBa at Harvard, graduating at the top of her class. people talk about Kelsey as the kind of person who will be president of her own company someday. Kelsey is also very personable. on all her performance reviews, she received extra-high scores on sociability and human relations. There isn’t a supervisor in the company who doesn’t have positive things to say about how comfortable it is to work with Kelsey. since joining GLF, Kelsey has been instrumental in bringing two new product lines to market.

Thomas santiago, the third candidate, has been with GLF for 10 years and is often consulted by upper management regarding strategic plan- ning and corporate direction setting. Thomas has been very involved in establishing the vision for GLF and is a company person all the way. He believes in the values of GLF, and actively promotes its mission. The two




34 LeaDersHip THeory anD pracTice

qualities that stand out above the rest in Thomas’s performance reviews are his honesty and integrity. employees who have worked under his supervision consistently report that they feel they can trust Thomas to be fair and consistent. Thomas is highly respected at GLF. in his tenure at the company, Thomas has been involved in some capacity with the devel- opment of three new product lines.

The challenge confronting sandra is to choose the best person for the newly established director’s position. Because of the pressure she feels from upper management, sandra knows she must select the best leader for the new position.


1. Based on the information provided about the trait approach in Tables 2.1 and 2.2, if you were sandra, whom would you select?

2. in what ways is the trait approach helpful in this type of selection?

3. in what ways are the weaknesses of the trait approach highlighted in this case?


Case 2.2

A remarkable Turnaround

carol Baines was married for 20 years to the owner of the Baines company until he died in a car accident. after his death, carol decided not to sell the business but to try to run it herself. Before the accident, her only involvement in the business was in informal discussions with her husband over dinner, although she has a college degree in business, with a major in management.

Baines company was one of three office supply stores in a city with a population of 200,000 people. The other two stores were owned by national chains. Baines was not a large company, and employed only five people. Baines had stable sales of about $200,000 a year, serving mostly the smaller companies in the city. The firm had not grown in a number of years and was beginning to feel the pressure of the advertising and lower prices of the national chains.

For the first 6 months, carol spent her time familiarizing herself with the employees and the operations of the company. next, she did a citywide



chapter 2 Trait approach 35

analysis of companies that had reason to purchase office supplies. Based on her understanding of the company’s capabilities and her assessment of the potential market for their products and services, carol developed a specific set of short-term and long-term goals for the company. Behind all of her planning, carol had a vision that Baines could be a viable, healthy, and competitive company. she wanted to carry on the business that her husband had started, but more than that she wanted it to grow.

over the first 5 years, carol invested significant amounts of money in advertising, sales, and services. These efforts were well spent because the company began to show rapid growth immediately. Because of the growth, the company hired another 20 people.

The expansion at Baines was particularly remarkable because of another major hardship carol had to confront. carol was diagnosed with breast cancer a year after her husband died. The treatment for her cancer included 2 months of radiation therapy and 6 months of strong chemo- therapy. although the side effects included hair loss and fatigue, carol continued to manage the company throughout the ordeal. Despite her difficulties, carol was successful. Under the strength of her leadership, the growth at Baines continued for 10 consecutive years.

interviews with new and old employees at Baines revealed much about carol’s leadership. employees said that carol was a very solid person. she cared deeply about others and was fair and considerate. They said she created a family-like atmosphere at Baines. Few employees had quit Baines since carol took over. carol was devoted to all the employees, and she supported their interests. For example, the company sponsored a softball team in the summer and a basketball team in the winter. others described carol as a strong person. even though she had cancer, she continued to be positive and interested in them. she did not get depressed about the cancer and its side effects, even though coping with cancer was difficult. employees said she was a model of strength, good- ness, and quality.

at age 55, carol turned the business over to her two sons. she continues to act as the president but does not supervise the day-to-day operations. The company is doing more than $3.1 million in sales, and it outpaces the two chain stores in the city.


1. How would you describe carol’s leadership traits?

2. How big a part did carol’s traits play in the expansion of the company?

3. Would carol be a leader in other business contexts?



36 LeaDersHip THeory anD pracTice

Case 2.3

recruiting for the Bank

pat nelson is the assistant director of human resources in charge of recruitment for central Bank, a large, full-service banking institu- tion. one of pat’s major responsibilities each spring is to visit as many college campuses as he can to interview graduating seniors for credit analyst positions in the commercial lending area at central Bank. although the number varies, he usually ends up hiring about 20 new people, most of whom come from the same schools, year after year.

pat has been doing recruitment for the bank for more than 10 years, and he enjoys it very much. However, for the upcoming spring he is feeling increased pressure from management to be particularly dis- criminating about whom he recommends hiring. Management is con- cerned about the retention rate at the bank because in recent years as many as 25% of the new hires have left. Departures after the first year have meant lost training dollars and strain on the staff who remain. although management understands that some new hires always leave, the executives are not comfortable with the present rate, and they have begun to question the recruitment and hiring procedures.

The bank wants to hire people who can be groomed for higher-level leadership positions. although certain competencies are required of entry-level credit analysts, the bank is equally interested in skills that will allow individuals to advance to upper management positions as their careers progress.

in the recruitment process, pat always looks for several characteristics. First, applicants need to have strong interpersonal skills, they need to be confident, and they need to show poise and initiative. next, because banking involves fiduciary responsibilities, applicants need to have proper ethics, including a strong sense of the importance of confiden- tiality. in addition, to do the work in the bank, they need to have strong analytical and technical skills, and experience in working with computers. Last, applicants need to exhibit a good work ethic, and they need to show commitment and a willingness to do their job even in difficult circumstances.

pat is fairly certain that he has been selecting the right people to be leaders at central Bank, yet upper management is telling him to reassess his hiring criteria. although he feels that he has been doing the right thing, he is starting to question himself and his recruitment practices.



chapter 2 Trait approach 37


1. Based on ideas described in the trait approach, do you think pat is looking for the right characteristics in the people he hires?

2. could it be that the retention problem raised by upper management is unrelated to pat’s recruitment criteria?

3. if you were pat, would you change your approach to recruiting?

leADersHip insTrUmenT _________________________

Organizations use a wide variety of questionnaires to measure individuals’ traits. In many organizations, it is common practice to use standard trait measures such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. These measures provide valuable information to the individual and the organization about the individual’s unique attributes for leadership and where the individual could best serve the organization.

In this section, the Leadership Trait Questionnaire (LTQ ) is provided as an example of a measure that can be used to assess your personal leadership characteristics. The LTQ quantifies the perceptions of the individual leader and selected observers, such as subordinates or peers. It measures an individual’s traits and points the individual to the areas in which that individual may have special strengths or weaknesses.

By taking the LTQ , you can gain an understanding of how trait measures are used for leadership assessment. You can also assess your own leadership traits.



38 LeaDersHip THeory anD pracTice

leadership Trait Questionnaire (lTQ)

Instructions: The purpose of this questionnaire is to measure personal charac- teristics of leadership. The questionnaire should be completed by the leader and five people who are familiar with the leader.

Make five copies of this questionnaire. This questionnaire should be com- pleted by you and five people you know (e.g., roommates, coworkers, rela- tives, friends). Using the following scale, have each individual indicate the degree to which he or she agrees or disagrees with each of the 14 statements below. Do not forget to complete one for yourself.

______________________________________ (leader’s name) is

Key: 1 = strongly 2 = Disagree 3 = neutral 4 = agree 5 = strongly disagree agree

1. Articulate: communicates effectively with others 1 2 3 4 5

2. perceptive: is discerning and insightful 1 2 3 4 5

3. self-confident: Believes in himself/herself and his/her ability 1 2 3 4 5

4. self-assured: is secure with self, free of doubts 1 2 3 4 5

5. persistent: stays fixed on the goals, despite interference 1 2 3 4 5

6. Determined: Takes a firm stand, acts with certainty 1 2 3 4 5

7. Trustworthy: is authentic and inspires confidence 1 2 3 4 5

8. Dependable: is consistent and reliable 1 2 3 4 5

9. Friendly: shows kindness and warmth 1 2 3 4 5

10. outgoing: Talks freely, gets along well with others 1 2 3 4 5

11. conscientious: is thorough, organized, and controlled 1 2 3 4 5

12. Diligent: is persistent, hardworking 1 2 3 4 5

13. sensitive: shows tolerance, is tactful and sympathetic 1 2 3 4 5

14. empathic: Understands others, identifies with others 1 2 3 4 5


1. enter the responses for raters 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 in the appropriate columns as shown in example 2.1. The example provides hypothetical ratings to help explain how the questionnaire can be used.

2. For each of the 14 items, compute the average for the five raters and place that number in the “average rating” column.

3. place your own scores in the “self-rating” column.



chapter 2 Trait approach 39

example 2.1 leadership Traits Questionnaire ratings

average self- rater 1 rater 2 rater 3 rater 4 rater 5 rating rating

1. articulate 4 4 3 2 4 3.4 4

2. perceptive 2 5 3 4 4 3.6 5

3. self-confident 4 4 5 5 4 4.4 4

4. self-assured 5 5 5 5 5 5 5

5. persistent 4 4 3 3 3 3.4 3

6. Determined 4 4 4 4 4 4 4

7. Trustworthy 5 5 5 5 5 5 5

8. Dependable 4 5 4 5 4 4.4 4

9. Friendly 5 5 5 5 5 5 5

10. outgoing 5 4 5 4 5 4.6 4

11. conscientious 2 3 2 3 3 2.6 4

12. Diligent 3 3 3 3 3 3 4

13. sensitive 4 4 5 5 5 4.6 3

14. empathic 5 5 4 5 4 4.6 3

scoring interpretation

The scores you received on the LTQ provide information about how you see yourself and how others see you as a leader. The chart allows you to see where your perceptions are the same as those of others and where they differ.

The example ratings show how the leader self-rated higher than the observ- ers did on the characteristic articulate. on the second characteristic, percep- tive, the leader self-rated substantially higher than others. on the self-confident characteristic, the leader self-rated quite close to others’ rat- ings but lower. There are no best ratings on this questionnaire. The purpose of the instrument is to give you a way to assess your strengths and weak- nesses and to evaluate areas where your perceptions are congruent with those of others and where there are discrepancies.



40 LeaDersHip THeory anD pracTice

sUmmAry _______________________________________

The trait approach has its roots in leadership theory that suggested that certain people were born with special traits that made them great leaders. Because it was believed that leaders and nonleaders could be differentiated by a universal set of traits, throughout the 20th century researchers were challenged to identify the definitive traits of leaders.

Around the mid-20th century, several major studies questioned the basic premise that a unique set of traits defined leadership. As a result, attention shifted to incorporating the impact of situations and of followers on leadership. Researchers began to study the interactions between leaders and their context instead of focusing only on leaders’ traits. More recently, there have been signs that trait research has come full circle, with a renewed interest in focusing directly on the critical traits of leaders.

From the multitude of studies conducted through the years on personal characteristics, it is clear that many traits contribute to leadership. Some of the important traits that are consistently identified in many of these studies are intelligence, self-confidence, determination, integrity, and sociability. In addition, researchers have found a strong relationship between leadership and the traits described by the f ive-factor personality model. Extraversion was the trait most strongly associated with leadership, followed by conscientiousness, openness, low neuroticism, and agreeableness. Another recent line of research has focused on emotional intelligence and its relationship to leadership. This research suggests that leaders who are sensitive to their emotions and to the impact of their emotions on others may be leaders who are more effective.

On a practical level, the trait approach is concerned with which traits leaders exhibit and who has these traits. Organizations use personality assessment instruments to identify how individuals will fit within their organizations. The trait approach is also used for personal awareness and development because it allows managers to analyze their strengths and weaknesses and to gain a clearer understanding of how they should try to change to enhance their leadership.

There are several advantages to viewing leadership from the trait approach. First, it is intuitively appealing because it fits clearly into the popular idea that leaders are special people who are out front, leading the way in society. Second, a great deal of research validates the basis of this perspective. Third, by focusing exclusively on the leader, the trait approach provides an in-depth understanding of the leader component in the leadership process. Last, it has provided some benchmarks against which individuals can evaluate their own personal leadership attributes.



chapter 2 Trait approach 41

On the negative side, the trait approach has failed to provide a definitive list of leadership traits. In analyzing the traits of leaders, the approach has failed to take into account the impact of situations. In addition, the approach has resulted in subjective lists of the most important leadership traits, which are not necessarily grounded in strong, reliable research.

Furthermore, the trait approach has not adequately linked the traits of leaders with other outcomes such as group and team performance. Last, this approach is not particularly useful for training and development for leadership because individuals’ personal attributes are largely stable and fixed, and their traits are not amenable to change.

sharpen your skills with saGe edge at edge.sagepub.com/northouse7e

reFerences ______________________________________

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Bennis, W. G., & Nanus, B. (1985). Leaders: The strategies for taking charge. New York: Harper & Row.

Bryman, A. (1992). Charisma and leadership in organizations. London: SAGE. Caruso, D. R., & Wolfe, C. J. (2004). Emotional intelligence and leadership

development. In D. V. Day, S. J. Zaccaro, & S. M. Halpin (Eds.), Leader development for transforming organizations: Growing leaders for tomorrow (pp. 237–266). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Goldberg, L. R. (1990). An alternative “description of personality”: The big-five factor structure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 1216–1229.

Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam. Goleman, D. (1998). Working with emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam. Jago, A. G. (1982). Leadership: Perspectives in theory and research. Management

Science, 28(3), 315–336. Judge, T. A., Bono, J. E., Ilies, R., & Gerhardt, M. W. (2002). Personality and

leadership: A qualitative and quantitative review. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 765–780.

Jung, D., & Sosik, J. J. (2006). Who are the spellbinders? Identifying personal attributes of charismatic leaders. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 12, 12–27.

Kidder, T. (2004). Mountains beyond mountains: The quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a man who would cure the world. New York: Random House.

Kirkpatrick, S. A., & Locke, E. A. (1991). Leadership: Do traits matter? The Executive, 5, 48–60.



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Lord, R. G., DeVader, C. L., & Alliger, G. M. (1986). A meta-analysis of the relation between personality traits and leadership perceptions: An application of validity generalization procedures. Journal of Applied Psychology, 71, 402–410.

Mann, R. D. (1959). A review of the relationship between personality and performance in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 56, 241–270.

Marlowe, H. A. (1986). Social intelligence: Evidence for multidimensionality and construct independence. Journal of Educational Psychology, 78, 52–58.

Mayer, J. D., Caruso, D. R., & Salovey, P. (2000). Selecting a measure of emotional intelligence: The case for ability scales. In R. Bar-On & J. D. A. Parker (Eds.), The handbook of emotional intelligence (pp. 320–342). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Mayer, J. D., & Salovey, P. (1995). Emotional intelligence and the construction and regulation of feelings. Applied & Preventive Psychology, 4, 197–208.

Mayer, J. D., & Salovey, P. (1997). What is emotional intelligence? In P. Salovey & D. Sluyter (Eds.), Emotional development and emotional intelligence: Implications for educators (pp. 3–31). New York: Basic Books.

Mayer, J. D., Salovey, P., & Caruso, D. R. (2000). Models of emotional intelligence. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Handbook of intelligence (pp. 396–420). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T. (1987). Validation of the five-factor model of personality across instruments and observers. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 81–90.

Nadler, D. A., & Tushman, M. L. (1989). What makes for magic leadership? In W. E. Rosenbach & R. L. Taylor (Eds.), Contemporary issues in leadership (pp. 135– 139). Boulder, CO: Westview.

Partners In Health. (2014). Our work. Retrieved from http://www.pih.org/our-work Sculley, J. (2011, October 10). No bozos. Ever. Bloomberg Businessweek, 4249, 27. Shankman, M. L., & Allen, S. J. (2008). Emotionally intelligent leadership: A guide for

college students. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Stogdill, R. M. (1948). Personal factors associated with leadership: A survey of the

literature. Journal of Psychology, 25, 35–71. Stogdill, R. M. (1974). Handbook of leadership: A survey of theory and research. New

York: Free Press. Stone, B. (2011, October 10). The return. Bloomberg Businessweek, 4249, 40. Zaccaro, S. J. (2002). Organizational leadership and social intelligence. In R. Riggio

(Ed.), Multiple intelligence and leadership (pp. 29–54). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Zaccaro, S. J. (2007). Trait-based perspectives of leadership. American Psychologist, 62, 6–16.

Zaccaro, S. J., Kemp, C., & Bader, P. (2004). Leader traits and attributes. In J. Antonakis, A. T. Cianciolo, & R. J. Sternberg (Eds.), The nature of leadership (pp. 101–124). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Zaleznik, A. (1977, May–June). Managers and leaders: Are they different? Harvard Business Review, 55, 67–78.




Skills Approach

DeScription _____________________________________

Like the trait approach we discussed in Chapter 2, the skills approach takes a leader-centered perspective on leadership. However, in the skills approach we shift our thinking from a focus on personality characteristics, which usually are viewed as innate and largely fixed, to an emphasis on skills and abilities that can be learned and developed. Although personality certainly plays an integral role in leadership, the skills approach suggests that knowl- edge and abilities are needed for effective leadership.

Researchers have studied leadership skills directly or indirectly for a number of years (see Bass, 1990, pp. 97–109). However, the impetus for research on skills was a classic article published by Robert Katz in the Harvard Business Review in 1955, titled “Skills of an Effective Administrator.” Katz’s article appeared at a time when researchers were trying to identify a definitive set of leadership traits. Katz’s approach was an attempt to transcend the trait problem by addressing leadership as a set of developable skills. More recently, a revitalized interest in the skills approach has emerged. Beginning in the early 1990s, a multitude of studies have been published that contend that a leader’s effectiveness depends on the leader’s ability to solve complex orga- nizational problems. This research has resulted in a comprehensive skill- based model of leadership that was advanced by Mumford and his colleagues (Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, Jacobs, & Fleishman, 2000; Yammarino, 2000).

In this chapter, our discussion of the skills approach is divided into two parts. First, we discuss the general ideas set forth by Katz regarding three basic administrative skills: technical, human, and conceptual. Second, we discuss

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the recent work of Mumford and colleagues that has resulted in a new skills- based model of organizational leadership.

Three-Skill Approach

Based on field research in administration and his own firsthand observations of executives in the workplace, Katz (1955, p. 34) suggested that effective administration (i.e., leadership) depends on three basic personal skills: tech- nical, human, and conceptual. Katz argued that these skills are quite different from traits or qualities of leaders. Skills are what leaders can accomplish, whereas traits are who leaders are (i.e., their innate characteristics). Leader- ship skills are defined in this chapter as the ability to use one’s knowledge and competencies to accomplish a set of goals or objectives. This chapter shows that these leadership skills can be acquired and leaders can be trained to develop them.

technical Skill

Technical skill is knowledge about and proficiency in a specific type of work or activity. It includes competencies in a specialized area, analytical ability, and the ability to use appropriate tools and techniques (Katz, 1955). For example, in a computer software company, technical skill might include knowing soft- ware language and programming, the company’s software products, and how to make these products function for clients. Similarly, in an accounting firm, technical skill might include understanding and having the ability to apply generally accepted accounting principles to a client’s audit. In both these examples, technical skills involve a hands-on activity with a basic product or process within an organization. Technical skills play an essential role in pro- ducing the actual products a company is designed to produce.

As illustrated in Figure 3.1, technical skill is most important at lower and middle levels of management and less important in upper management. For leaders at the highest level, such as CEOs, presidents, and senior officers, technical competencies are not as essential. Individuals at the top level depend on skilled followers to handle technical issues of the physical operation.

Human Skill

Human skill is knowledge about and ability to work with people. It is quite different from technical skill, which has to do with working with things

applying Katz’s Skills Technical Skills



chapter 3 Skills approach 45

(Katz, 1955). Human skills are “people skills.” They are the abilities that help a leader to work effectively with followers, peers, and superiors to accomplish the organization’s goals. Human skills allow a leader to assist group members in working cooperatively as a group to achieve common goals. For Katz, it means being aware of one’s own perspective on issues and, at the same time, being aware of the perspective of others. Leaders with human skills adapt their own ideas to those of others. Furthermore, they create an atmosphere of trust where employees can feel comfortable and secure and where they can feel encouraged to become involved in the planning of things that will affect them. Being a leader with human skills means being sensitive to the needs and motivations of others and taking into account others’ needs in one’s decision making. In short, human skill is the capacity to get along with oth- ers as you go about your work.

In Figure 3.1, human skills are important in all three levels of management. Although managers at lower levels may communicate with a far greater number of employees, human skills are equally important at middle and upper levels.

conceptual Skill

Broadly speaking, conceptual skills are the ability to work with ideas and concepts. Whereas technical skills deal with things and human skills deal with people, conceptual skills involve the ability to work with ideas. A leader with conceptual skills is comfortable talking about the ideas that shape an organization and the intricacies involved. He or she is good at putting the company’s goals into words and can understand and express the economic principles that affect the company. A leader with conceptual skills works easily with abstractions and hypothetical notions.

Conceptual skills are central to creating a vision and strategic plan for an organization. For example, it would take conceptual skills for a CEO in a struggling manufacturing company to articulate a vision for a line of new products that would steer the company into profitability. Similarly, it would take conceptual skill for the director of a nonprofit health organization to create a strategic plan that could compete successfully with for-profit health organizations in a market with scarce resources. The point of these examples is that conceptual skill has to do with the mental work of shaping the mean- ing of organizational or policy issues—understanding what a company stands for and where it is or should be going.

In Figure 3.1, conceptual skill is most important at the top management levels. In fact, when upper-level managers do not have strong conceptual

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46 LeaderShip Theory and pracTice

skills, they can jeopardize the whole organization. Conceptual skills are also important in middle management; as we move down to lower management levels, conceptual skills become less important.

Summary of the three-Skill Approach

To summarize, the three-skill approach includes technical, human, and con- ceptual skills. It is important for leaders to have all three skills; depending on where they are in the management structure, however, some skills are more important than others are.

Katz’s work in the mid-1950s set the stage for conceptualizing leadership in terms of skills, but it was not until the mid-1990s that an empirically based

Figure 3.1 Management Skills necessary at Various Levels of an organization

TOP Management


MIDDLE Management








SoUrce: adapted from “Skills of an effective administrator,” by r. L. Katz, 1955, Harvard Business Review, 33(1), pp. 33–42.



chapter 3 Skills approach 47

skills approach received recognition in leadership research. In the next sec- tion, the comprehensive skill-based model of leadership is presented.

Skills Model

Beginning in the early 1990s, a group of researchers, with funding from the U.S. Army and Department of Defense, set out to test and develop a comprehensive theory of leadership based on problem-solving skills in organizations. The stud- ies were conducted over a number of years using a sample of more than 1,800 Army officers, representing six grade levels, from second lieutenant to colonel. The project used a variety of new measures and tools to assess the skills of these officers, their experiences, and the situations in which they worked.

The researchers’ main goal was to explain the underlying elements of effec- tive performance. They addressed questions such as these: What accounts for why some leaders are good problem solvers and others are not? What specific skills do high-performing leaders exhibit? How do leaders’ indi- vidual characteristics, career experiences, and environmental influences affect their job performance? As a whole, researchers wanted to identify the leader- ship factors that create exemplary job performance in an actual organization.

Based on the extensive findings from the project, Mumford and colleagues formulated a skill-based model of leadership. The model is characterized as a capability model because it examines the relationship between a leader’s knowledge and skills (i.e., capabilities) and the leader’s performance (Mum- ford, Zaccaro, Harding, et al., 2000, p. 12). Leadership capabilities can be developed over time through education and experience. Unlike the “great man” approach (discussed in this text, Chapter 2), which implies that leader- ship is reserved for only the gifted few, the skills approach suggests that many people have the potential for leadership. If people are capable of learn- ing from their experiences, they can acquire leadership. The skills approach can also be distinguished from the leadership approaches we will discuss in subsequent chapters, which focus on behavioral patterns of leaders (e.g., the style approach, transformational leadership, or leader–member exchange theory). Rather than emphasizing what leaders do, the skills approach frames leadership as the capabilities (knowledge and skills) that make effective leadership possible (Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, et al., 2000, p. 12).

The skill-based model of Mumford’s group has five components: competen- cies, individual attributes, leadership outcomes, career experiences, and envi- ronmental influences. A portion of the model, illustrating three of these components, appears in Figure 3.2. This portion of the model is essential to understanding the overall skill-based leadership model.

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48 LeaderShip Theory and pracTice


As can be observed in the middle box in Figure 3.2, problem-solving skills, social judgment skills, and knowledge are at the heart of the skills model. These three competencies are the key factors that account for effective performance.

Problem-Solving Skills. What are problem-solving skills? According to Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, et al. (2000), problem-solving skills are a leader’s creative ability to solve new and unusual, ill-defined organizational problems. The skills include being able to define significant problems, gather problem information, formulate new understandings about the problem, and generate prototype plans for problem solutions. These skills do not function in a vacuum, but are carried out in an organizational con- text. Problem-solving skills demand that leaders understand their own leadership capacities as they apply possible solutions to the unique prob- lems in their organization (Mumford, Zaccaro, Connelly, & Marks, 2000).

Being able to construct solutions plays a special role in problem solving. In considering solutions to organizational problems, skilled leaders need to attend to the time frame for constructing and implementing a solution, short-term and long-term goals, career goals and organizational goals, and external issues, all of which could influence the solution (Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, et al., 2000, p. 15).

Figure 3.2 Three components of the Skills Model


General Cognitive Ability

Crystallized Cognitive Ability




Problem-Solving Skills

Social Judgment Skills



Effective Problem Solving


SoUrce: adapted from “Leadership Skills for a changing World: Solving complex Social problems,” by M. d. Mumford, S. J. Zaccaro, F. d. harding, T. o. Jacobs, and e. a. Fleishman, 2000, Leadership Quarterly, 11(1), 23.

conceptualizations of Skill Shared Leadership



chapter 3 Skills approach 49

To clarify what is meant by problem-solving skills, consider the following hypothetical situation. Imagine that you are the director of human resources for a medium-sized company and you have been informed by the president that you have to develop a plan to reduce the company’s health care costs. In deciding what you will do, you could demonstrate problem-solving skills in the following ways. First, you identify the full ramifications for employees of changing their health insurance coverage. What is the impact going to be? Second, you gather information about how benefits can be scaled back. What other companies have attempted a similar change, and what were their results? Third, you find a way to teach and inform the employees about the needed change. How can you frame the change in such a way that it is clearly understood? Fourth, you create possible scenarios for how the changes will be instituted. How will the plan be described? Fifth, you look closely at the solution itself. How will implementing this change affect the company’s mission and your own career? Last, are there issues in the organization (e.g., union rules) that may affect the implementation of these changes?

As illustrated by this example, the process of dealing with novel, ill-defined organizational problems is complex and demanding for leaders. In many ways, it is like a puzzle to be solved. For leaders to solve such puzzles, the skill-based model suggests that problem-solving skills are essential.

Social Judgment Skills. In addition to problem-solving skills, effective leadership performance also requires social judgment skills (see Figure 3.2). In general, social judgment skills are the capacity to understand people and social systems (Zaccaro, Mumford, Connelly, Marks, & Gilbert, 2000, p. 46). They enable leaders to work with others to solve problems and to marshal support to implement change within an organization. Social judg- ment skills are the people skills that are necessary to solve unique organiza- tional problems.

Conceptually, social judgment skills are similar to Katz’s (1955) early work on the role of human skills in management. In contrast to Katz’s work, Mumford and colleagues have delineated social judgment skills into the fol- lowing: perspective taking, social perceptiveness, behavioral flexibility, and social performance.

Perspective taking means understanding the attitudes that others have toward a particular problem or solution. It is empathy applied to problem solving. Perspective taking means being sensitive to other people’s perspectives and goals—being able to understand their point of view on different issues. Included in perspective taking is knowing how different constituencies in an

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50 LeaderShip Theory and pracTice

organization view a problem and possible solutions. According to Zaccaro, Gilbert, Thor, and Mumford (1991), perspective-taking skills can be likened to social intelligence. These skills are concerned with knowledge about people, the social fabric of organizations, and the interrelatedness of each of them.

Social perceptiveness is insight and awareness into how others in the organiza- tion function. What is important to others? What motivates them? What problems do they face, and how do they react to change? Social perceptive- ness means understanding the unique needs, goals, and demands of different organizational constituencies (Zaccaro et al., 1991). A leader with social perceptiveness has a keen sense of how followers will respond to any pro- posed change in the organization. In a sense, you could say it allows the leader to know the pulse of followers on any issue at any time.

In addition to understanding others accurately, social judgment skills also involve reacting to others with flexibility. Behavioral flexibility is the capacity to change and adapt one’s behavior in light of an understanding of others’ perspectives in the organization. Being flexible means one is not locked into a singular approach to a problem. One is not dogmatic but rather maintains an openness and willingness to change. As the circumstances of a situation change, a flexible leader changes to meet the new demands.

Social performance includes a wide range of leadership competencies. Based on an understanding of followers’ perspectives, leaders need to be able to communicate their own vision to others. Skill in persuasion and communi- cating change is essential to do this. When there is resistance to change or interpersonal conflict about change, leaders need to function as mediators. To this end, skill in conflict resolution is an important aspect of social per- formance competency. In addition, social performance sometimes requires that leaders coach followers, giving them direction and support as they move toward selected organizational goals. In all, social performance includes many related skills that may come under the umbrella of communication.

To review, social judgment skills are about being sensitive to how your ideas fit in with others. Can you understand others’ perspectives and their unique needs and motivations? Are you flexible, and can you adapt your own ideas to others? Can you work with others even when there is resistance and con- flict? Social judgment skills are the people skills needed to advance change in an organization.

Knowledge. As shown in the model (see Figure 3.2), the third aspect of competencies is knowledge. Knowledge is inextricably related to the




chapter 3 Skills approach 51

application and implementation of problem-solving skills in organizations. It directly influences a leader’s capacity to define complex organizational problems and to attempt to solve them (Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, et al., 2000). Knowledge is the accumulation of information and the mental struc- tures used to organize that information. Such a mental structure is called a schema (a summary, a diagrammatic representation, or an outline). Knowledge results from having developed an assortment of complex schemata for learning and organizing data.

For example, all of us take various kinds of facts and information into our minds. As we organize that information into categories or schemata, the information becomes more meaningful. Knowledge emerges from the facts and the organizational structures we apply to them. People with a lot of knowledge have more complex organizing structures than those with less knowledge. These knowledgeable people are called experts.

Consider the following baseball example. A baseball expert knows a lot of facts about the game; the expert knows the rules, strategies, equipment, players, and much, much more. The expert’s knowledge about baseball includes the facts, but it also includes the complex mental structures used in organizing and structuring those facts. That person knows not only the season and lifetime statistics for each player, but also that player’s quirks and injuries, the personality of the manager, the strengths and weaknesses of available substitutes, and so on. The expert knows baseball because she or he comprehends the complexities and nuances of the game. The same is true for leadership in organizations. Leaders with knowledge know much about the products, the tasks, the people, the organization, and all the dif- ferent ways these elements are related to each other. A knowledgeable leader has many mental structures with which to organize the facts of orga- nizational life.

Knowledge has a positive impact on how leaders engage in problem solving. It is knowledge and expertise that make it possible for people to think about complex system issues and identify possible strategies for appropriate change. Furthermore, this capacity allows people to use prior cases and incidents in order to plan for needed change. It is knowledge that allows people to use the past to constructively confront the future.

To summarize, the skills model consists of three competencies: problem- solving skills, social judgment skills, and knowledge. Collectively, these three components are positively related to effective leadership performance (see Figure 3.2).

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52 LeaderShip Theory and pracTice

individual Attributes

Returning to Figure 3.2, the box on the left identifies four individual attri- butes that have an impact on leadership skills and knowledge: general cogni- tive ability, crystallized cognitive ability, motivation, and personality. These attributes play important roles in the skills model. Complex problem solving is a very difficult process and becomes more difficult as people move up in the organization. These attributes support people as they apply their leader- ship competencies.

General Cognitive Ability. General cognitive ability can be thought of as a person’s intelligence. It includes perceptual processing, information pro- cessing, general reasoning skills, creative and divergent thinking capacities, and memory skills. General cognitive ability is linked to biology, not to experience.

General cognitive ability is sometimes described as fluid intelligence, a type of intelligence that usually grows and expands up through early adulthood and then declines with age. In the skills model, intelligence is described as having a positive impact on the leader’s acquisition of complex problem- solving skills and the leader’s knowledge.

Crystallized Cognitive Ability. Crystallized cognitive ability is intellectual ability that is learned or acquired over time. It is the store of knowledge we acquire through experience. We learn and increase our capacities over a lifetime, increasing our leadership potential (e.g., problem-solving skills, conceptual ability, and social judgment skills). In normally functioning adults, this type of cognitive ability grows continuously and typically does not fall off in adulthood. It includes being able to comprehend complex information and learn new skills and information, as well as being able to communicate to others in oral and written forms (Connelly et al., 2000, p. 71). Stated another way, crystallized cognitive ability is acquired intelli- gence: the ideas and mental abilities people learn through experience. Because it stays fairly stable over time, this type of intelligence is not dimin- ished as people get older.

Motivation. Motivation is listed as the third attribute in the model. Although the model does not purport to explain the many ways in which motivation may affect leadership, it does suggest three aspects of motivation that are essential to developing leadership skills (Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, et al., 2000, p. 22): First, leaders must be willing to tackle complex organizational problems. This first step is critical. For leadership to occur, a

role of emotions



chapter 3 Skills approach 53

person wants to lead. Second, leaders must be willing to express domi- nance—to exert their influence, as we discussed in Chapter 2. In influencing others, the leader must take on the responsibility of dominance because the influence component of leadership is inextricably bound to dominance. Third, leaders must be committed to the social good of the organization. The social good is a broad term that can refer to a host of outcomes. However, in the skills model it refers to the leader’s willingness to take on the responsi- bility of trying to advance the overall human good and value of the organi- zation. Taken together, these three aspects of motivation (willingness, dominance, and social good) prepare people to become leaders.

Personality. Personality is the fourth individual attribute in the skills model. Placed where it is in the model, this attribute reminds us that our personality has an impact on the development of our leadership skills. For example, open- ness, tolerance for ambiguity, and curiosity may affect a leader’s motivation to try to solve some organizational problems. Or, in conflict situations, traits such as confidence and adaptability may be beneficial to a leader’s perfor- mance. The skills model hypothesizes that any personality characteristic that helps people to cope with complex organizational situations probably is related to leader performance (Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, et al., 2000).

Leadership outcomes

In the right-hand box in Figure 3.2, effective problem solving and perfor- mance are the outcomes of leadership. These outcomes are strongly influenced by the leader’s competencies (i.e., problem-solving skills, social judgment skills, and knowledge). When leaders exhibit these competencies, they increase their chances of problem solving and overall performance.

Effective Problem Solving. As we discussed earlier, the skills model is a capability model, designed to explain why some leaders are good problem solvers and others are not. Problem solving is the keystone in the skills approach. In the model (see Figure 3.2), problem-solving skills, as compe- tencies, lead to effective problem solving as a leadership outcome. The cri- teria for good problem solving are determined by the originality and the quality of expressed solutions to problems. Good problem solving involves creating solutions that are logical, effective, and unique, and that go beyond given information (Zaccaro et al., 2000).

Performance. In the model, performance outcomes reflect how well the leader has done her or his job. To measure performance, standard external

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54 LeaderShip Theory and pracTice

criteria are used. If the leader has done well and been successful, the leader’s evaluations will be positive. Leaders who are effective receive good annual performance reviews, get merit raises, and are recognized by superiors and followers as competent leaders. In the end, performance is the degree to which a leader has successfully performed the assigned duties.

Taken together, effective problem solving and performance are the two ways to assess leadership effectiveness using the skills model. Furthermore, good problem solving and good performance go hand in hand. A full depiction of the comprehensive skills model appears in Figure 3.3. It contains two other components, not depicted in Figure 3.2, that contribute to overall leadership performance: career experiences and environmental influences.

career experiences

As you can see in Figure 3.3, career experiences have an impact on the char- acteristics and competencies of leaders. The skills model suggests that the experiences acquired in the course of leaders’ careers influence their knowl- edge and skills to solve complex problems. Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, et al. (2000, p. 24) pointed out that leaders can be helped through challenging job assignments, mentoring, appropriate training, and hands-on experience in solving new and unusual problems. In addition, the authors think that career experiences can positively affect the individual characteristics of lead- ers. For example, certain on-the-job assignments could enhance a leader’s motivation or intellectual ability.

In the first section of this chapter, we discussed Katz’s (1955) work, which notes that conceptual skills are essential for upper-level administrators. This is consistent with Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, et al.’s (2000) skills model, which contends that leaders develop competencies over time. Career experi- ence helps leaders to improve their skills and knowledge over time. Leaders learn and develop higher levels of conceptual capacity if the kinds of prob- lems they confront are progressively more complex and more long term as they ascend the organizational hierarchy (Mumford, Zaccaro, Connelly, et al., 2000). Similarly, upper-level leaders, as opposed to first-line supervi- sors, develop new competencies because they are required to address prob- lems that are more novel, that are more poorly defined, and that demand more human interaction. As these people move through their careers, higher levels of problem-solving and social judgment skills become increasingly important (Mumford & Connelly, 1991).

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chapter 3 Skills approach 55

So the skills and knowledge of leaders are shaped by their career experiences as they address increasingly complex problems in the organization. This notion of developing leadership skills is unique and quite different from other leadership perspectives. If we say, “Leaders are shaped by their experi- ences,” then it means leaders are not born to be leaders (Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, et al., 2000). Leaders can develop their abilities through experience, according to the skills model.

environmental influences

The final component of the skills model is environmental influences, which is illustrated at the bottom of Figure 3.3. Environmental influences represent factors that lie outside the leader’s competencies, characteristics, and experi- ences. These environmental influences can be internal and external.

Internal environmental influences affecting leadership performance can include such factors as technology, facilities, expertise of subordinates, and communication. For example, an aging factory or one lacking in high-speed technology could have a major impact on the nature of problem-solving activities. Another example might be the skill levels of followers: If a leader’s followers are highly competent, they will definitely improve the group’s problem solving and performance. Similarly, if a task is particularly complex or a group’s communication poor, the leader’s performance will be affected.

External environmental influences, including economic, political, and social issues, as well as natural disasters, can provide unique challenges to leaders. In March 2011, a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated large parts of Japan, crippling that nation’s automobile manufacturing industry. Toyota Motor Corp. alone had more than 650 of its suppliers and component man- ufacturers wiped out, halting worldwide production of Toyota vehicles and devastating the company’s sales. At the same time, this disaster was a boon to American carmakers, which increased shipments and began outselling Toyota, which had dominated the market. Leaders of these automobile com- panies, both Japanese and American, had to respond to unique challenges posed by external forces completely beyond their control.

The skills model does not provide an inventory of specific environmental influences. Instead, it acknowledges the existence of these factors and recog- nizes that they are indeed influences that can affect a leader’s performance. In other words, environmental influences are a part of the skills model but not usually under the control of the leader.

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56 LeaderShip Theory and pracTice

Summary of the Skills Model

In summary, the skills model frames leadership by describing five compo- nents of leader performance. At the heart of the model are three competen- cies: problem-solving skills, social judgment skills, and knowledge. These three competencies are the central determinants of effective problem solving and performance, although individual attributes, career experiences, and environ- mental influences all have impacts on leader competencies. Through job experience and training, leaders can become better problem solvers and more effective leaders.

How DoeS tHe SkiLLS ApproAcH work? _________

The skills approach is primarily descriptive: It describes leadership from a skills perspective. Rather than providing prescriptions for success in leader- ship, the skills approach provides a structure for understanding the nature of effective leadership. In the previous sections, we discussed the skills perspective based on the work of Katz (1955) and Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, et al. (2000). What does each of these bodies of work suggest about the structure and functions of leadership?

Figure 3.3 Skills Model of Leadership

Career Experiences

Environmental Influences


General Cognitive Ability

Crystallized Cognitive Ability




Problem-Solving Skills

Social Judgment Skills


Problem-Solving Skills

Social Judgment Skills



Effective Problem Solving


SoUrce: adapted from “Leadership Skills for a changing World: Solving complex Social problems,” by M. d. Mumford, S. J. Zaccaro, F. d. harding, T. o. Jacobs, and e. a. Fleishman, 2000, Leadership Quarterly, 11(1), 23.



chapter 3 Skills approach 57

The three-skill approach of Katz suggests that the importance of certain leadership skills varies depending on where leaders are in a management hierarchy. For leaders operating at lower levels of management, technical and human skills are most important. When leaders move into middle manage- ment, it becomes important that they have all three skills: technical, human, and conceptual. At the upper management levels, it is paramount for leaders to exhibit conceptual and human skills.

This approach was reinforced in a 2007 study that examined the skills needed by executives at different levels of management. The researchers used a four- skill model, similar to Katz’s approach, to assess cognitive skills, interpersonal skills, business skills, and strategic skills of 1,000 managers at the junior, mid- dle, and senior levels of an organization. The results showed that interpersonal and cognitive skills were required more than business and strategic skills for those on the lower levels of management. As one climbed the career ladder, however, the execution of higher levels of all four of these leadership skills became necessary (Mumford, Campion, & Morgeson, 2007).

In their skills model, Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, et al. (2000) provided a more complex picture of how skills relate to the manifestation of effective leadership. Their skills model contends that leadership outcomes are the direct result of a leader’s competencies in problem-solving skills, social judg- ment skills, and knowledge. Each of these competencies includes a large repertoire of abilities, and each can be learned and developed. In addition, the model illustrates how individual attributes such as general cognitive abil- ity, crystallized cognitive ability, motivation, and personality influence the leader’s competencies. And finally, the model describes how career experi- ences and environmental influences play a direct or indirect role in leader- ship performance.

The skills approach works by providing a map for how to reach effective leadership in an organization: Leaders need to have problem-solving skills, social judgment skills, and knowledge. Workers can improve their capabili- ties in these areas through training and experience. Although each leader’s personal attributes affect his or her skills, it is the leader’s skills themselves that are most important in addressing organizational problems.

StrengtHS ______________________________________

In several ways, the skills approach contributes positively to our under- standing about leadership. First, it is a leader-centered model that stresses

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58 LeaderShip Theory and pracTice

the importance of developing particular leadership skills. It is the first approach to conceptualize and create a structure of the process of leadership around skills. Whereas the early research on skills highlighted the impor- tance of skills and the value of skills across different management levels, the later work placed learned skills at the center of effective leadership perfor- mance at all management levels.

Second, the skills approach is intuitively appealing. To describe leadership in terms of skills makes leadership available to everyone. Unlike personality traits, skills are competencies that people can learn or develop. It is like playing a sport such as tennis or golf. Even without natural ability in these sports, people can improve their games with practice and instruction. The same is true with leadership. When leadership is framed as a set of skills, it becomes a process that people can study and practice to become better at performing their jobs.

Third, the skills approach provides an expansive view of leadership that incorporates a wide variety of components, including problem-solving skills, social judgment skills, knowledge, individual attributes, career experiences, and environmental influences. Each of these components can further be subdivided into several subcomponents. The result is a picture of leadership that encompasses a multitude of factors. Because it includes so many vari- ables, the skills approach can capture many of the intricacies and complexi- ties of leadership not found in other models.

Last, the skills approach provides a structure that is very consistent with the curricula of most leadership education programs. Leadership education pro- grams throughout the country have traditionally taught classes in creative problem solving, conflict resolution, listening, and teamwork, to name a few. The content of these classes closely mirrors many of the components in the skills model. Clearly, the skills approach provides a structure that helps to frame the curricula of leadership education and development programs.

criticiSMS _______________________________________

Like all other approaches to leadership, the skills approach also has certain weaknesses. First, the breadth of the skills approach seems to extend beyond the boundaries of leadership. For example, by including motivation, critical thinking, personality, and conflict resolution, the skills approach addresses more than just leadership. Another example of the model’s breadth is its inclusion of two types of intelligence (i.e., general cognitive ability and crys- tallized cognitive ability). Although both areas are studied widely in the field



chapter 3 Skills approach 59

of cognitive psychology, they are seldom addressed in leadership research. By including so many components, the skills model of Mumford and others becomes more general and less precise in explaining leadership performance.

Second, related to the first criticism, the skills model is weak in predictive value. It does not explain specifically how variations in social judgment skills and problem-solving skills affect performance. The model suggests that these components are related, but it does not describe with any precision just how that works. In short, the model can be faulted because it does not explain how skills lead to effective leadership performance.

In addition, the skills approach can be criticized for claiming not to be a trait model when, in fact, a major component in the model includes individual attributes, which are trait-like. Although Mumford and colleagues describe cognitive abilities, motivation, and personality variables as factors contribut- ing to competencies, these are also factors that are typically considered to be trait variables. The point is that the individual attributes component of the skills model is trait driven, and that shifts the model away from being strictly a skills approach to leadership.

The final criticism of the skills approach is that it may not be suitably or appropriately applied to other contexts of leadership. The skills model was constructed by using a large sample of military personnel and observing their performance in the armed services. This raises an obvious question: Can the results be generalized to other populations or organizational settings? Although some research suggests that these Army findings can be general- ized to other groups (Mumford, Zaccaro, Connelly, et al., 2000), more research is needed to address this criticism.

AppLicAtion _____________________________________

Despite its appeal to theorists and academics, the skills approach has not been widely used in applied leadership settings. For example, there are no training packages designed specifically to teach people leadership skills from this approach. Although many programs have been designed to teach leadership skills from a general self-help orientation, few of these programs are based on the conceptual frameworks set forth in this chapter.

Despite the lack of formal training programs, the skills approach offers valu- able information about leadership. The approach provides a way to delineate the skills of the leader, and leaders at all levels in an organization can use it.

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60 LeaderShip Theory and pracTice

In addition, this approach helps us to identify our strengths and weaknesses in regard to these technical, human, and conceptual skills. By taking a skills inventory such as the one provided at the end of this chapter, people can gain further insight into their own leadership competencies. Their scores allow them to learn about areas in which they may want to seek further training to enhance their overall contributions to their organization.

From a wider perspective, the skills approach may be used in the future as a template for the design of extensive leadership development programs. This approach provides the evidence for teaching leaders the important aspects of listening, creative problem solving, conflict resolution skills, and much more.

cASe StUDieS

The following three case studies (Cases 3.1, 3.2, and 3.3) describe leader- ship situations that can be analyzed and evaluated from the skills perspec- tive. The first case involves the principal investigator of a federally funded research grant. The second case takes place in a military setting and describes how a lieutenant colonel handles the downsizing of a military base. In the third case, we learn about how the owner of an Italian restau- rant has created his own recipe for success.

As you read each case, try to apply the principles of the skills approach to the leaders and their situations. At the end of each case are questions that will assist you in analyzing the case.

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